JrF: when & why did you become interested in located sound ?
From a very young age, I have been practicing a kind of ‘strolling’ that gradually evolved towards documenting urban transformation based on the registration of different possible experiences. I spent a large part of my childhood/youth in the public space of the historic centre of the city of Ghent, which was seriously transforming at the time (90’s, car-free shift). Probably, through my father, who was a funk/soul dj in his youth, I developed my 1st sense of active listening to music. While studying sociology, urbanism and spatial planning, and via my work with youth on participation and urban development in Ghent & Brussels, I developed an interest in counter cartography and the use of locative media. I finished my masters in urbanism, with a thesis on urban sound design for a post-industrial area. The observation and analysis of the project area was based on field recording and sonic cartography.
JrF: how do you use sound (inc. field recordings) in your own artistic output?
Working in an old industrial urban context characterised by oppression and (slow) repression, with low quality public space, sound became a portal for critical urban research. Through theoretical and practical oriented research, I question the position of (sonic) vibrations in processes of urban development. Practicing Field recording I search to introduce listening and experience in the planning and design process. Because i’m interested in longitudinal observation, my practice of field recording is evolving into a form of monitoring. In my on-going PhD research at the KU Leuven Department of Architecture, supervised by Prof. Burak Pak and Peter Cusack, I search to expand that perspective to non-human experiences of sonic forces in dynamic urban spaces. I’m now working on a practice of field recording that fits in with this non anthropocentric shift. Practical but above all ethical, this brings in additional challenges. What is the position and role of people in the recording of sounds in public space? How to deal with the collection and interpretation of recordings as data?
JrF: do you regard ‘natural’ sound as a musical element (bearing in mind that such words are human inventions with shifting weight and meaning) or as sound? are these definitions important? (nb. the term ‘natural’ is used in this instance to describe any sound from any object, other species or human that is observed rather than generated with apparent compositional intent)
I don’t search for a ‘soundscape’ approach. But I do work with the conceptions of ‘sonic effect’ and sound as informational affect. Through practice development and since two years via the PhD research I explore how urban planning and design processes can depart from sonic experiences, not necessarily human, without falling into a disneyfication of the urban sound environment.
JrF: how has the creative exploration of located sound altered the way you listen to your everyday surroundings or in a wider sense, to the issue of the environment in crisis, and how has it affected the way you listen to other music and sound (if at all) ?
By working on a creative but systematically approach, combining urban planning, sociological and sound arts perspectives, I became more experienced in socio-spatial listening. For me personally, this form of listening also has something meditative. While walking, everyday or not, I tend to stop when a (possible) sonic experience of a situation intrigues me. More than in the past, I try to imagine experiences from multiple positions. The PhD research but also free experimentation with different tools encourages me to play with this.
I recently moved to the Brussels Northern Quarter. While walking and observing, participating in daily life here, I create a sonic journal or rather a cartography, first and foremost in my thoughts/head. The recordings, the selection and positioning of recorders, synths and mics, the notes and sharing follow later. I prefer to see this practice as improvisation. It evolves over time, nourished by the interactions, the different possible positions that I encounter there, via my renovation of a house, street conversations, the introduction of new urban projects and their competitions, the failure of public space control, the landscape and its animals. I consider this exercise in cartography as an automatic process that runs almost by itself. As a result, I become more involved in my neighbourhood and its on-going transformation.
Idd, I think there’s a reciprocal and open- ended interplay between my research, everyday listening and the music I listen to. Philosophy, social theories and music as well as film inspire my observations of experiences. The opposite also applies, I think. And also between the music I listen to and the filo I read, I experience this interplay.