COMPOSing the rhythms of our cities … One BEAT at a time
The LONDON SOUNDMAP was conceived as an interactive installation for Transport for London’s ‘Transported by Design’ festival, show-casing various aspects of design in the functioning of London’s transport system. The aim of the Soundmap was to raise awareness of the role sound plays in our urban experiences: its invisible contribution to sense of place and how it aids our urban navigation. It also sought to demonstrate the need to compose our urban soundscape and the role acoustic design can play in making our cities more interactive, accessible and enjoyable. This 3x5 metre mat was embedded with pressure sensors and linked to sonic rhythms composed from recorded sounds of London. Installed on the asphalt of Regent Street, it provided an interactive audio-visual surface for urban movement which promoted the collaborative composition of London’s urban soundscape as well as the creation of a participatory street performance.
Collaborators: Abbie Phillips (graphic design); Daniel Scott (electronic engineering)
The London Soundmap
The MUSICAL BUSkSTOP was commissioned by Transport for London for London’s ‘Year of the Bus’ Festival held in Regent Street, 18 June 2014. Our objective was to help change the public’s perception of the bus stop from a necessary piece of infrastructure to an enjoyable place to be. Thus it aimed to transform the typically mundane task of ‘waiting’ for the bus into a more engaging and interactive one, helping to alleviate boredom as well as promoting collaboration and encouraging the usage of public transport. Sensors were embedded into the custom-designed seat-covers to create a series of ‘musical chairs’ which the public could play by sitting on. By distributing the different musical tracks along the seating, our strategy was to promote collaborative music-making between strangers in order to play the whole piece.
Exhibition: Regent Street, London, 18 June 2014
Winner of 'Best Urban Design Film', New Urbanism Film Festival, Los Angeles, 2014
Collaborators: Matthias Moos; Alex Brigman (Electronic and sound design)
Related Publications: 1,5,7,9
The Bus Stop; London's Agent of Change
TIME TRAVEL was selected from a public competition to form part of Transport for London’s ‘Year of the Bus’ Sculpture Trail in London 2014. The name refers to the dynamic nature of the transport system: changing from day to night; and according to its users. It was also an exploration of a more responsive type of public art: one which could respond to its environmental conditions as well as to its public audience. Utilising thermochromic paint, the idea was that the colour of the sculpture would change from a typical London bus red in the day-time, to black at night-time. Furthermore, the design of the bus network, which covers the sculpture, would glow in the dark to reveal itself at night. Exhibited in the Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park during winter, this dynamic sculpture encouraged children and adults alike to warm it up to a healthy London red, as well as recharge its glow with the light of their mobile devices during the night. Following its exhibition, it was auctioned for charity for £10,000.
Exhibition: Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, London, Nov 2014 - Feb 2015
Roles: Selected artist (public competition); design; project Management
Related Publications: 7, 9
The BIOdress is an interactive garment exploring how we as humans can better understand the state of our natural environments through visual and tactile means. It is part of a larger investigation into interspecies communication, which criticises the anthropocentric tendency of design to privilege human needs above those of the environment. By connecting the garment to an associated plant equipped with sensors, it measures and displays 3 different types of environmental data: the amount of air pollution; toxic gases; and the plant’s embodied energy. This is represented by changes in the colour of the garment; the ‘breathing’ of the sleeves; and the movement of the fabric leaves themselves. The wearer and observer can thus communicate and perceive their environmental state through colour, form and movement.
Exhibitions: HK (2014), Australia (2015), The Netherlands (2016), USA (2016)
Collaborators: The Walter Collective (Zoe Mahony; Beck Davis; Raune Frankjaer; Tricia Flanagan)
Related Publications: 3
BIOdress TEI exhibition video
SCORES was a sound art installation forming part of an exhibition entitled Malleable Architecture in which UCL-Leverhulme artist-in-residence Zoe Schoenherr investigated non-visual means of the production of space. The work was conceived through a series of stages: 1. data collection of movement using body sensors, as represented through graphs; 2. static representation of the movement data through visual art; and 3. dynamic representation of the movement through sound. My role was to interpret stages 1 & 2 in order to generate a sound piece which could temperalise Schoenherr's visual artwork. Utilising the acoustic communication technique of sonification (the representation of data in sound) I could animate the artwork in time, as well is in space through acoustic spatialisation techniques. Both noise-cancelling and bone conducting headphones were used to produce different aural experiences for the user, allowing the work to be enjoyed by both sighted and visually impaired people.
Exhibited in the PAMELA Laboratory of UCL, Tufnell Park, London, November 2015.
Progetto Entrainment was a site-specific dance performance held in the architecture studio of Pastor Architetti Associati, a restored 17th century Venetian palazzo with contemporary architectural detailing. Utilising the dynamic and sonorous elements of the architecture itself, choreographer Michela Marino and I sought to animate the space through music and dance. The objective was to explore French philosopher and urbanist Henri Lefebvre’s theory of Rhythmanalysis: the understanding of our urban environments through the experience of its rhythms. Through the concept of Entrainment - the meeting of one rhythm with another - we juxtaposed the private rhythms of its inhabitants with the public rhythms of its visitors, and those of the natural environment with the built environment. By articulating these rhythms through movement and sound, literally playing the buildings as a musical instrument, we brought these everyday rhythms to life.
Roles: Conceptual design; sound design and composition
The SONIFIED URBAN MASTERPLAN was developed as part of my doctoral thesis in order to represent the spatio-temporal composition of the city. Being polyphonic in nature, sound could also represent the multiple urban rhythms that compose our urban dynamic. The idea was that the city is a composition and can be played just like a piece of music. Articulating the music of the city was made possible through the technique of sonification - the representation of data in sound - and the development of an image sonification tool. Utilising techniques from computer-aided music composition, it was also possible to design in time. The result was the ability to understand our cities by listening to them.
Tactical Urbanism is about designing positive social change, from the ground up. As a facilitator of capacity building workshops in various developing countries in South America, and in collaboration with UCL and the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office, I have been investigating how participatory planning can contribute not only to a city's urban design, but to society itself. This PARADERO MUSICAL (i.e. Musical Bus stop) in Santa Marta, Colombia, was created by our workshop participants and adopted immediately by the neighbouring group of young rappers (pictured). While it may not be as high-tech as the one in London, it still succeeded in uniting society and making the urban environment a more collaborative and enjoyable one.
If architecture is 'frozen music', then why not compose our cities like a piece of music ? This piece of 'MUSICAL URBAN DESIGN' is an investigation into the relationship between music, architecture and urban design. It takes a site-specific piece of music (Left Edge, by Iain Grandage) and transforms it into an urban masterplan for its urban development. It investigates parallels between compositional techniques used in music and those applied to urban form, and explores how one can inform the other. While the fate of the site has since been decided, the questions raised by this project still remain: What can the temporal art of music composition teach us in the composition of our urban experiences? Can we design more 'musical cities'?