Sustrans commissions soundscape art for travelling landscape

The Optimist Travel Team

Last updated 10/15/2008 12:53:28 PM

'Tranquillity is a State of Mind' is the first project to be commissioned by sustainable transport charity Sustrans for its new artwork programme entitled 'Prospectives'.

The artwork will explore acoustic ecology and its relationship with travelling landscape.

The project will be developed by Liminal – an artistic partnership of architect Frances Crow and sound artist David Prior - bringing together a team of specialists in audiology, neuroscience and acoustics to consider how they contribute to understanding sound from radically different perspectives.

Crow explained the background, "As a society we have been gradually devaluing our ability to listen in preference to seeing, but we are fascinated by the relationship between sound and the environment.

"When people suffer from hearing loss they can benefit from a range of therapies and devices - we will use the idea of the listening aid as a central metaphor to investigate notions of noise, tranquillity, health and wellbeing in relation to the perception of sound in the environment."

In recent interview, Liminal commented that they believe the term ‘soundmarks’ should be used alongside the word ‘landmarks’, and that historic sounds should be listed.

The team will embark on an extensive research phase looking into each of the collaborator's respective subject areas, carrying out a soundcycle and identifying a suitable site.

Liminal has previously coordinated soundwalks - walking through a specific area paying special attention to all the sounds you hear - at sites including Warwick Bar and the Cotswold Water Park.  

For this project they will hold a one-day soundcycle ride at the chosen site involving members of the public.

The project culminates in an exhibition presenting the outcomes of the research phase including a proposal for a listening aid structure to be sited on part of Sustrans' 12,000-mile National Cycle Network.

Crow said, "Often people think of noise as 'bad' and tranquillity as 'good' and suggest cutting out noise altogether, but we choose to use the sounds at a site to change people's perception of it, just as an architect would use physical materials to change a person's relationship to the place.”  

“Different people react to different sounds in different ways, for example, the sea is very noisy but is often perceived to be very tranquil.  With our team of experts we will develop a critical understanding of the notion of tranquillity and the role it has to play in our health and wellbeing."

Katy Hallett, Director of Art and the Travelling Landscape for Sustrans, added: "We are absolutely delighted to be working with Liminal as they have a very interesting and exciting track record.  The project is a wonderful start to our Prospectives programme."

This first effort has been made possible thanks to funding and support from the Wellcome Trust's Arts Awards.