Walking-with-sounds: creative agency, artistic collaboration and the sonic production of acoustic city spaces
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This thesis interrogates the urban environment through the filter of the sonic to explore the significance of sound in society. As such, it is located within studies of the auditory culture in combination with theoretical aspects of sociology, cultural studies, anthropology, philosophy, geography, and musicology that together comprise the inter-discipline of sound studies. Examples of sound art are introduced that demonstrate the development of the social interactions that take place in the networks formed by the interlacing of spatial, acoustic and informational layers, mixed realities and digital landscapes. This thesis focuses on sound art works that are coproduced by artists and audiences, exist in - real, imagined, or hybrid - space, are technologically mediated, geo-located and experienced through headphones. The audiences of this type of sound art are the listeners who explore and appropriate an area while becoming aware of the rich soundscapes of everyday life. Audiences in this sense may become participants involved in creating the content of sound art, which is in most cases field recordings and soundscape compositions. These interactions between sound art and the public space construct acoustic city spaces where sound art audiences may form acoustic communities. I argue that sound art generates new ways to think about our cities and the ways we exist as social agents within them. For this, I explore phenomenological listening as a form of collective belonging to a place and a feeling of participating equally to our everyday sonic experience of our cities. I propose the use of an interdisciplinary research methodology that firstly triangulates ethnographic tools, and experimental auditory phenomenology, and secondly understands soundwalks and soundmaps as a method for knowing soundscapes. A research methodology for the artistic practices that use mobile audio devices can contribute to the development of a new interdisciplinary theoretical and methodological framework for researching sound art practices in public space. The research is based on the concept of the soundscape and its multiple uses for capturing and studying the sonic environment. A case study of collaborative sound walking/mapping enables me to explore the relation between body and physical space, and in this, consider the application of playful, collaborative and creative sonic affordances in urban design and in the right to the city. Ultimately, I present a definition of acoustic communities and acoustic space through a sound art outlook. I examine acoustic community emergence and formation and how this informs the ways these communities perceive, document, and share their experience of space. My aim is to show that the development of a sound art practice, where everyday and artistic listening practices intertwine with agency and creativity, assembles inclusive acoustic spaces where emerging artistic acoustic communities are empowered to construct agonistic acoustic city spaces.