Winter School 2022 – Parallel workshops (Grenoble)

The participants were invited to explore the production of devices on a body scale, using listening to question this issue. It was chosen to work on the sound spaces for and in waiting to echo three “categories” of sound vulnerability: social, spatial and environmental vulnerability. 

The workshop work took place from Tuesday to Friday and was organized in parallel on the two host sites of the winter school:
– the National School of Architecture of Grenoble in France,
– the Department of Architecture at the University of Thessaly in Greece.

The working time in French and Greek on each site was punctuated by exchanges and remote presentations via ZOOM meetings in English.

The two workshops led to a moment of presentation and friendly exchange in hybrid between France, Greece and the remote participants to share and exchange on the participants’ productions.

Workshop in Grenoble

Supervision team:
Théo Marchal, Sebastien Depertat, Laureen Gomez, juL McOisans, Cédric Pichat, Nicolas Tixier, David Argoud

Participants: (…)

Following a series of lectures on the issues associated with waiting spaces, vulnerability, but also the modalities of diffusion and propagation of sound in space, the participants began to think about listening, waiting or wandering devices at the body scale. The working method consisted of an intensive 3-day period of reflection, design, sketching and fabrication of spatial devices as well as of diffused sound pieces. The first day allowed them to discover the context of work : a large empty room, very reverberant which will welcome the proposals of the participants. Then, they were able to test the different modalities of sound in space (frequencies, intensities, directivities, solid state or aerial diffusion) with different diffusion and captation tools. 

Collective discussion about the prototypes (photo : juL mcOisans)
First sketches (photo : Théo Marchal)
 First experiments with transducer (photo : juL mcOisans)

The participants had at their disposal construction materials (wooden plates and organic wool) as well as tools for sound capture (recorders, microphones), sound editing/transformation/generation (synthesizer, computers, software) and finally sound diffusion (loudspeaker, solid state transducers in mono/stereo and multi-channel). 

At the end of this first experiment of sound in space, a time of collective exchange allowed us to think about two devices of acoustic and sounding spaces : a “listening bench” and a “sound chicanery”. 

A listening bench:

The first device built is the result of a reflection on the solidian diffusion of the sound for a waiting space such as a bench (public or private) and the various postures of body which can be associated with it. It combines a direct transducer diffusion (in a lying position, between the two shoulder blades), and two indirect diffusion : through the bones first (via a vertical rigid core on which the elbows are placed in a standing/armed position), and through a vibrating seat that vibrates both the air and the body by means of the rigid wooden membrane to which the transducers are attached. 

Bench Transducer (photo : Théo Marchal)
The listening Bench (photo : Jul mcOisans)

Wrapping, distance and absorption:

The second device was thought as a coil which allows to extract itself at different proportions from the surrounding sound environment. It was a matter here of proposing at the same time a space which constrains the body and the sounds so as to generate a gradation in the isolation and the absorption (more and more acoustically matt) but also in the number of bodies being able to move forward in the device and their position, having to be increasingly curled up in order to to move forward until the last point.
By exploiting the materials at disposal (heavy wood panels (LivingBoard 15mm) and natural insulation (BiofipTrio)), as well as the context of installation of the device (an empty room with a large reverberation), the participants were able to propose a strong contrast effect between two points ; inside and outside the device. The most interesting result was also a progressive effect, and the possibility of adjustment of the acoustic and haptic effects on the body in movement and on the potential uses of such a device referring to the protection and to the sound, visual and kinetic intimacy.

Inside the isolate (photo : Théo Marchal)
Final drawing for the prototype (photo : Théo Marchal)

Sound message and love letters:

A third group of participants proposed to explore the city of Grenoble and to deposit “like a bottle in the sea”, letters of “love” in order to collect in response testimonies by text message or vocal message on a “burner phone”. These answers were then translated into midi messages, then into sounds diffused in headphones. This proposal puts in tension the intimacy of a private exchange, on the scale of a mailbox or a street, and a cartographic and urban dissemination in the sum of the listening and the postcards thus presented.

Listening to the translated answers (photo : Cédric Pichat)
Love letters (photo : Nicolas Tixier)

Conclusion
The workshop’s success in Grenoble lies in the participants’ quick ability to take hold of both sound and physical matter to produce spatial-sound devices and test hypotheses relating to the issues of vulnerability, sound and waiting spaces. Thus the listening bench and the visual and sound isolate function together in the room, but above all they propose two radically different experiences and therefore adapted to different situations of use. The bench has allowed prototyping different ways of listening through the matter, whether it is for a noisy environment, for people with disabilities, or for a different listening research to “call” the user’s ear. These listening modalities are coupled with body postures that decline typology and temporalities of waiting (sitting, standing, lying down) to test and propose new ways of listening.
The isolate which wraps around itself offers, by its dimensioning and its materialities, the possibility of regulating a form of haptic intimacy, whether it is a question of virtually taking distance while remaining in the same room, or of extracting oneself completely from a situation, one observes here a proposal which could be declined at various scales while preserving its properties of protection/projection.
These proposals echo the reflexions already carried out during the winter school of 2021 (entirely online) and which had not been able to test concrete devices of setting in form / space of these questions.


Cet événement est financé par le projet “B-AIR Art Infinity Radio“, l’un des projets lauréats de l’appel européen du programme Culture de l’Agence européenne pour la culture, l’éducation et la création (EACEA).

Cette publication [communication] n’engage que ses auteurs et la Commission ne peut être tenue responsable de l’usage qui pourrait être fait des informations qu’elle contient.


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