5-12 May 2018
At the invitation of Miriam Wistreich (DK) and Arkadiusz Póltorak (PL) of the Curatorial Programme of De Appel I made in an inspiring collaboration the sound exhibition ‘Sonic Field Work’.
The sonic aspect of the Chinese globalization could be heard. Outside visitors could listen to the audible separation of the CIAM city functions (dwelling, working, recreation, and transportation) in garden city Amsterdam Nieuw-West, constructed by urban designer Cornelis van Eesteren. A small library was installed with publications about city planning, architecture, sound art and their relations in between.
‘Sonic Field Walk Lely’ took place in the monumental stairwell of Broedplaats Lely, built by architect J. B. Ingwersen.
Miriam Wistreich (DK) en Arkadiusz Póltorak (PL) about Cilia Erens
Cilia Erens, a pioneer of binaural recording since the 1980s, uses advanced recording equipment and experimental audio systems to recreate real sound spaces of modern urban developments. In her works, Erens pays particular attention to moments of silence, shifts in noise registers that occur over time, and the audible renditions of designed space. The artist treats her surroundings as compositions “of adjacent and overlapping sound spaces that reveal something about the built environment and its occupants”.
Sonic Field Work is a collection of sounds from disparate temporal and geographical locations which all point towards global processes of modernisation. Technological development, functionalist partitions of space, social atomisation, urban sprawls, migration and tourism are reflected in sonic environments, which often escape our attention.
In her field recordings Erens pays particular attention to the effects of urban planning on sonoric environments. Both in Chinese metropolises and in the modernist residential districts of the Netherlands, technological development and urban design determine particular rhythms of audible space. One set of sounds in Sonic Field Work captures the audio markers of globalization in rapidly growing Chinese cities, picking up increases in certain kinds of noise and the gradual disappearance of human-generated sounds. Others record the environments of modernist developments in Europe. Here Erens’ recordings circle around the alienating scale of architecture and the division of residential, commercial, logistic and industrial environments. This partition reflects the legacy of the functionalist guidelines of CIAM (the Congrès Internationaux d'Architecture Moderne), the hugely influential organization co-established by Gerrit Rietveld and Hendrik Berlage (among others).
Sonic Field Work emphasises the continuous repetitions that shape sonoric environments in China and the Netherlands, underlining the distinct ways in which silence, contingency and transient random rhythms surface in contemporary landscapes. It is not only through the study of city plans but also through immediate experience of sound that we can learn about the effects of modernist urbanisation ideologies.
Accompanying Sonic Field Work, Cilia Erens presents a guided field walk through De Appel’s modernist surroundings, built according to Cornelis van Eesteren’s masterplan. Participants of the Sonic Field Walk Lely are invited to attend to dislocated soundscapes from Amsterdam Nieuw-West and the landscape around De Appel in real time.
Sonic Field Walk Lely provides a glimpse into Cilia Erens’ methodology of listening to urban space. As a modernist housing development, Amsterdam Nieuw- West reflects a strategy of urban design that partitioned space into designated functions. Taking visitors through the CIAM inspired neighbourhood, the field walk makes visible the layering of human and non-human sounds that characterise this specific soundscape and aims to sensitise visitors to the sonic results of the architectural drawing table. In the heart of Amsterdam Nieuw-West, at Station Lelylaan, one still hears the crisp sounds of electric trains, motorised gateways and airplanes. However, the purity of sound that can still be experienced around this building - reminiscent of a breathing monster - will soon be lost as the district transforms into a bustling, multifunctional compact city.