Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture” at S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

On the occasion of the new music festival ZeitRäume, S AM presents an exhibition dedicated to the sound of spaces. With four highly diverse sound space interventions in the rooms of the S AM this exhibition invites visitors to explore the often under-appreciated interface between architecture and sound via the senses.

 

Spatial Positions 10: "The Sound of Architecture" © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture” © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

 

The show is dedicated to a frequently-neglected subject: the sound of space. The reason for the exhibition is the new festival ZeitRäume Basel – Biennial for new Music and Architecture, which takes place this September for the first time and combines biennial architecture with music. Berlin-based Austrian composer and artist Peter Ablinger, the Elektronisches Studio Basel and festival director Bernhard Günther have collaborated in drawing up an exhibition concept tailored specifically to the ear, realised architecturally by Lucerne architects Niklaus Graber and Christoph Steiger and combined to form a whole.

 


 

Practical information

Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture”
From 05/09/2015 to 18/10/2015

S AM Swiss Architecture Museum
Steinenberg 7, 4001 Basel
Switzerland

 


 

 

With four highly diverse sound space interventions in the rooms of the S AM this exhibition invites visitors to explore the often under-appreciated interface between architecture and sound via the senses. Although composers have joined two architects and an architecture photographer in creating the exhibition, music in its typical form plays no role here. The focus is upon listening as an elementary occurrence that can be experienced spatially.

Instead of explaining didactically what role the ear plays in a space, the minimalist room concept awakens a curiosity for exploring spaces acoustically. Sound sources, sound absorbers, acoustically-effective forms and choices of material are not paramount here. The ephemeral nature of sound and the spatial mobility of hearing are underscored by the uniform use of textile-looking membranes as space-defining medium. With minimal means the architecture directs maximum attention to the sense of hearing. In this manner the exhibition enables the familiar rooms of the S AM to be rediscovered in a completely new way – with the ears.

 

Spatial Positions 10: "The Sound of Architecture" © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture” © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

 

ENTRANCE AREA
Peter Ablinger: Weiss/Weisslich 23, dummy head /headphones (1995)
Niklaus Graber & Christoph Steiger, architectural realisation

‘As the dummy head microphone is directly connected to the headphones, you can hear with headphones the same as without. However: the same is not the same. There is a difference. At least the difference between simply being here and listening. This difference is what the piece is.’ Peter Ablinger

 

 

Spatial Positions 10: "The Sound of Architecture" © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture” © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: "The Sound of Architecture" © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture” © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

 

ROOM 1A STADTRAUME

Anna Katharina Scheidegger, photography Bernhard Günther, conzept & sound recordings
Niklaus Graber & Christoph Steiger, architectural realisation

At first glance the three large-format pictures by Swiss photographer Anna Katharina Scheidegger correspond to the expectations of an architecture exhibition: urban spaces, spaces and buildings are opulently depicted. At second glance headphones invite the visitor to enter a second sensorial level which, although it plays a major role in the quotidian perception of architecture, is frequently relegated to the background in favour of visual perception: what does a space sound like, what sounds characterise an urban space, how does the presence of a structure affect the ear?

 

ROOM 1B ONE TO ONE

Elektronisches Studio Basel of the School of Music FHNW / Basel Music Academy, conzept & electronic und acoustic realisation
Niklaus Graber & Christoph Steiger, architectural realisation

Receiving a three-dimensional impression of a space via the ears is essentially a consequence of binaural perception – the left and right ear distinguish minimally different sounds. The distance and difference of direction between both ears enables the unconscious decoding of high-precise spatial information in everyday life. This can be determined when listening to recordings from a dummy head microphone via headphones – the space sounds convincingly genuine and architecturally far more precise than the spatiality of the best stereo system. However, even with loudspeakers spaces can be depicted surprisingly vividly, or even simulated – when care is taken to ensure that the acoustic signals for the left and right ear are not blended. This phenomenon of crosstalk cancellation (XTC), which has been increasingly investigated in the field of acoustic research in recent years, is utilised by the Elektronisches Studio Basel in this room of the exhibition: an acoustically impermeable membrane creates a barrier between the signals of two loudspeakers. This simple architectural intervention quasi negates normal stereo listening and expands the audio field to 120 degrees. The right and left ear essentially hear separately of one another. This enables the acoustic spatial location and perceived distance to a sound source to be regulated surprisingly precisely on a computer – for example, a passing bus can sound far closer than the two loudspeakers from which the sound emanates. Suddenly the space that is heard alters its size, form, openness, reflection. A minimalist experimental arrangement that permits the listener to immerse himself surprisingly in the acoustic atmospheres of various Basel locations in one and the same space. The music that can be heard in this installation was composed by Nikola Misic.

 

ROOM 2/3/4
Peter Ablinger: ‘Weisse Flucht’ (2014–2015)
Niklaus Graber & Christoph Steiger, architectural realisation
‘If you want to see, listen: listening brings you closer to seeing.’ Bernhard of Clairvaux

The ‘Weisse Flucht’, Peter Ablinger‘s central contribution to the ‘The Sound of Architecture’ exhibition, radically enables three rooms at the S AM to blend into a single space. The extreme reduction of the visual differences to a spatial line bordered by textile membranes focuses attention on acoustic differences. The ‘Weisse Flucht’ combines manifest minimalism at an architectural level with a subtle maximalism at the level of hearing. The acoustic differences between the three rooms are enhanced by interventions that can only be heard and not seen by the exhibition visitors – via sound-absorbing elements or openings in the window panes, through which the sounds of the city become audible, the bubbling of the Tinguely Fountain and the noise of the traffic. No artificially-generated sounds are added, the rooms of the S AM are merely rendered audible. No electronic or acoustic sounding is employed, merely minimalist architectural interventions that subtly influence the acoustics of the room. ‘I heard or read somewhere about a European trade delegation that visited Japan, perhaps in the 18th century, when Japan was closed off to the West. To prevent the delegation from coming into contact with the public a long corridor of cloth was hung from the harbour to the imperial palace.

I can imagine how the people cut off from visual contact – both the delegation walking between the fabric and the Japanese citizens the other side of the cloth – pricked up their ears to discern something about the others via their remaining sense of hearing.’
Peter Ablinger (2015)

 

Spatial Positions 10: "The Sound of Architecture" © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture” © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: "The Sound of Architecture" © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture” © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

 


 

ACCOMPANYING PROGRAMME

An accompanying programme has been prepared for the exhibition, complementing and enlarging upon the topics that the exhibition touches on.

10/09/2015, 6 PM
Public guided tour
Location: S AM Schweizerisches Architekturmuseum, Steinenberg 7, 4051 Basel Entrance Fee: CHF 10.– (CHF 8.– disc.)

17/09/2015 7 PM
Lecture by Christophe Girot and Nadine Schütz
«The Acoustic Dimension of Landscape Architecture»
With the aim of developing new methods for the integration of acoustic and musical aspects in the landscape architectural design, Christophe Girot and Nadine Schütz have established the research focus “Landscape Acoustics” at the Institute of Landscape Architecture at ETH Zurich. In their lecture accompanying the SAM exhibition ” The Sound of Architecture” they will discuss relationships between sound and landscape perception and invite the audience to an acoustic journey through the – too often only visually determined – history of landscape architecture.
Institute of Landscape Architecture (ILA), Department of Architecture, ETH Zurich
Place: Ackermannshof,LABA, St. Johanns-Vorstadt 19–21, 4056 Basel Entrance Fee: CHF 10.– (CHF 8.– disc.)

22/09/2015, 5 PM
Talk and exhibition tour with Peter Ablinger Entrance Fee: CHF 12.– (CHF 8.– disc.)

23/09/2015 10–12 AM
Wednesday-Matinée at S AM
Entrance Fee: CHF 10.– (CHF 5.– disc.)

08/10/2015, 6 PM
Guided tour in the current exhibition Spatial Positions 10 ‹The Sound of Architecture› by the exhibition architects Niklaus Graber and Christoph Steiger Entrance Fee: CHF 12.– (CHF 8.– disc.)

 

Exhibition model © Graber & Steiger Architekten

Exhibition model © Graber & Steiger Architekten

Exhibition model © Graber & Steiger Architekten

Exhibition model © Graber & Steiger Architekten

Spatial Positions 10: "The Sound of Architecture" © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

Spatial Positions 10: “The Sound of Architecture” © S AM Swiss Architecture Museum

 


 

News source: S AM