xxxx_terrain is a sonic participatory work and composition for the open space of four landscapes along the south-north route taken during sonsbeek20 → 24 that connects Park Sonsbeek in Arnhem with the Kröller-Müller Museum at De Hoge Veluwe National Park. Here, for uniquely historical and geographical reasons, four distinct types of landscapes within walking distance of each other come together: the urban, the cultural, the industrial and the terrestrial. Each contains different sets of times and rhythms, states its material conditions and shapes activities.
Almost all terrains in these landscapes are human-touched and human-made. Many have changed multiple times. All contain sets of detectable audible properties. The thresholds in between can be clear, sharp like a cut or blurry and hard to detect. The many layers within these landscapes carry connotations, tell stories and sing songs. To discover them and become a participant, one has to do the work of walking and over and over pausing and listening. Then the audible reveals information and emotion at the same time.
xxxx_terrain is an invitation to follow composed paths and visit various marked ‘Listening Sites’ – hang out there, play, experiment, listen – and engage with their audible properties and qualities. The sonic effects of all Listening Sites reveal various interrelationships between sound events and the built or grown environment. Doing so will consciously expand the individual’s perception, recognition and interpretation of a landscape or an urban living space through the aural dimension. In the centre of the work is the bodily perceiving human subject. A kind of score/map/handbook communicates this network of marked Listening Sites, which connect to specific paths. This map/score/handbook serves orientation. It contains instructions for experiments and exercises, including a short narrative for each path and each listening site, notes and sketches from the artistic process. In a more general way, this handbook will stay useful beyond the 100 days of sonsbeek as a starting point or introduction for further individual research and experiments in the auditory domain.
Sound is a material phenomenon. Its effects and properties can be felt and measured, but it also has great symbolic power. Terms like resonance or reflection and their characteristics play a significant role in this work. We find them here in their material appearances, like in certain perceivable echoes in the forest. In a metaphorical sense, the colonial time resonates in certain design aspects in cultural landscapes like Park Sonsbeek and current social and political orders in the Netherlands. All of this, we can hear and last, not least, our ecological status and struggle on a local or planetary aspect.
To participate in xxxx_terrain on a personal level means to slow down and get in touch with the senses and space around. The more time we spend to experiment and exercise, to pause and listen, the more we start to think with our ears.
Activate this work with the app, booklet and sticks, available at our Molenplaats and Portiershuisje info points.
Sam Auinger (1956, Linz) is a sonic thinker, composer and sound artist. He lives and works in Berlin since receiving an invitation to the Berliner Künstlerprogramm des DAAD in 1997. His interest is in the sonic and auditory as material phenomena that embed information about our shared global interdependence and emotional triggers. Central to his artistic research is the aim to deepen understanding of acoustic/aural qualities in our urban living environments, precisely public spaces. He propagates (encourages, promotes) ‘thinking with the ears’ as an essential part of any design process in architecture and urban planning. For him, it is a critical daily praxis towards understanding our role in an endangered planetary environment at all levels, from social to environmental. Together with Bruce Odland, he founded O+A in 1989.
Their central theme is ‘hearing perspective’, and they are known for large-scale, public space sound installations that transform city noise into evolving harmonies in real-time (Symphony of Resonances, documenta 14, Thessaloniki, 2017; Sonic Vista, Frankfurt, since 2011; Blue Moon, New York, 2004). Auinger was the first City Sound Artist of Bonn in 2010 and the featured artist at Ars Electronica in 2011. He lectures and gives workshops at international universities such as Harvard University Graduate School of Design, Cambridge, MA; MIT Program in Art, Culture and Technology, Cambridge, MA; and London School of Architecture. He collaborates with city planners and architects and places a high value on personal experience on-site in all design and planning processes.
Sam Auinger, xxxx_terrain, 2021. Photo by Django van Ardenne