Spatial sound sensitivity

Spatial sound sensitivity

curator Agnieszka Sukienniczak

Exhibition duration: 17.06-28.08.2021

Opening: 17.06.2021, 19.00-22.00

The exhibition is the implementation of the project awarded in the 4th edition of the “Competition for curators”, announced in 2020 by the Jan Tarasin Art Gallery in Kalisz.

Spatial sound sensitivity

Our perception consists of the interaction of all our senses. When we gaze at architecture, we usually focus on its visual layer, i.e. we get to know it through our sight. What causes this particular sense to be favored? According to perceptual researchers, Andrzej Klawiter and Anna Preis, this inequality results from differences in definition. According to traditional dictionary approaches, perception of sound is based on perceiving acoustic waves. Klawiter and Preis note that this expression refers only to the features of the information carrier, and does not characterize the object to which this information relates. Hearing serves us to analyze what is happening around the body. Hearing helps us to locate an object, allows you to estimate its mass and the material from which it is made. The most important information we acquire by using this sense is the dynamics of the object and the way it moves. The aforementioned researchers propose the presentation of the visual image as one that is used to recognize static features of an object (shape, size, color). The perception of sound, on the other hand, should be translated as the provision of data on dynamic features (speed, acceleration, direction of movement, etc.).

Can static objects, such as architecture, also be heard? With the advent of electronic devices, architectural practice has almost completely stopped using building blocks to amplify or mask audibility. However, the notion of the relationship between buildings and sound appears relatively often in inspiring artistic works. In 2016, Christina Everts and Tomasz Pawłowski gave a performance in an abandoned building of a former synagogue in Poznań. Evers decided to perform a Jewish song in this building, symbolically restoring the original function of the building. The reverberation of a female voice reflecting off the walls and domes made the viewers feel the monumentality of the architectural form. With sound and the way it resonates, it was possible to “measure” space.

The use of room geometry for acoustic purposes is best known in institutions dealing with music and concerts. The shape of the Szczecin Philharmonic became an inspiration for the panGenerator group. The authors, using electronic devices and the characteristic round shape of the staircase, constructed a large-scale instrument. The sound of a carrier moving along the stairs‘ inner ramp made a rhythmic echo.

The topography of streets, textures and shapes of buildings creates a soundscape, individual for each space. How cities sound has been changed by increasing car use and (generally speaking) industrial growth. The issue of the pollution of the audio-sphere and the negative effects it causes to the ecosystem is discussed by Katarzyna Krakowiak in Who Owns The Air. Recordings of singing birds show the lack of possibility of their mutual communication. The effects of the hustle and bustle are felt not only by animals, but also by inhabitants of the metropolis. According to a 2018 report by the World Health Organization (WHO), more than 30% of the population of the European Union must withstand night noise levels above 50 dB. We can imagine that the level of this value corresponds to the volume of a running vacuum cleaner. This threat can cause a number of health problems.[1]

Due to technological progress, the sound signals that surround us have changed. The characteristic tones of messages in communicators have become more recognizable than the singing of individual bird species. One should also not forget about how the sounds influence each other, creating independent, uncontrolled compositions. This account was shown in Jan Ankiersztajn‘s Soundscape objects project.

Every day we are surrounded by the ubiquitous excess of messages, a veritable labyrinth of messages. When we walk down the street, we are unconscious listeners and participants in conversations. The Polish composer and conductor Witold Lutosławski appealed for increasing awareness of noise and its negative effects. As we read in the book On Music. Writings and statements (2011): “The sound comes to us through the skull. Our hearing is defenseless and in this respect we are slaves of the world around us.”[2] Contrary to the stimuli received by the other senses, we are not able to completely separate ourselves from the sounds that reach us. Such an attempt may be drowning out the noise with headphones. Paradoxically, if we want to isolate ourselves from the hustle and bustle, we guarantee that our body will suffer from even more noise. The artist Zuzanna Dembiec proposes an installation that limits the sight and hearing of the audience. The material structure of the Social Platform blocks the field of view and sounds. By separating the visitor from the stimuli, the former may – paradoxically – rediscover the number of the latter. Similar educational activities promoting the right to silence were conducted in 2013 by Franciszek Sterczewski. The architect and activist prepared a happening which made people aware of their presence by muffling the sounds.

Considerations of silence gained particular importance during the turbulent times of the pandemic. Part of society is forced to spend their time in isolation, while many people are locked up in poor housing conditions. In this situation, the topic of sound comfort seems to be very topical.

The Spatial Sound Sensitivity exhibition aims to encourage the viewer not so much to passive listening, but to intelligently hear the soundscape that surrounds us. Meeting at Jan Tarasin Art Gallery in Kalisz provides the opportunity to discuss the presence of sounds in architectural structures. The awareness of participating in the everyday composition of sounds also has enormous artistic potential. The exhibition is therefore a form of invitation both to search for silence and to listen together to the buildings around us.


Agnieszka Sukienniczak 

ARTIST BIOGRAPHIES

Jan Ankiersztajn – architect, designer. He graduated from Design Academy Eindhoven with a specialization in Contextual Design. Winner of the Electrolux Design Lab 2012 international competition. He gained professional experience at ZIETA Prozessdesign (Wrocław) and TysselandArkitektur AS (Bergen). Ankiersztajn’s projects could be seen at group exhibitions, including: Triennale in Milan, Graduation Show (Design Academy Eindhoven) in the Netherlands and Fotografiska Museet in Sweden. He lives and works in Poznań.

Zuzanna Dembiec – an artist from Zakopane, currently living in Amsterdam. As she describes herself: “I deal with Social Art – projects introducing participants into a state of self-awareness, omnipotence and Love, helping them to establish contact with themselves, with another person or with society. I believe in being able to make changes in the world and in individuals through art.”[3] For years, Dembiec had run her own studio in Podhale, where she organized happenings, meetings and exhibitions.

Christina Everts – artist born in the Netherlands, studied at the Academie Minerva Groningen and the University of Arts in Poznań. In her works, she deals with the art of performance, and also creates installations. Participant of group exhibitions, including: AK30, “We Are Enough, Already”, “Neighborhood” in Poznań and individual exhibitions: “The Polish Bride” in the R20 gallery, “The House in Which She Was Happy,” exhibition in the form of a trip, together with Yanthe van Nek, Groningen – Werne (DE). She lives and works in Poznań.

panGenerator – a multidisciplinary artistic collective in Warsaw, founded by Piotr Barszczewski, Krzysztof Cybulski, Krzysztof Goliński and Jakub Koźniewski. Since 2010, the group has been creating unique projects exploring ways of expression and interaction with the public through the art of modern media. They presented their works at many festivals and exhibitions, including: Ars Electronica, ZKM Karlsruhe, Dutch Design Week, Milan Design Week, DMY, Athens Digital Art Festival, LPM, Lodz Design, Pause Fest Melbourne, Node Festival, Design Museum Holon, PrintScreen Festival, WRO Media Art Biennale, SXSW, Warsaw Autumn, Przemiany Festival, European Culture Congress.

Katarzyna Krakowiak – creates sculptures, performances, objects, compositions and sound installations in which she explores the languages ​​of describing architecture. Her aim is to create acoustic environments that allow viewers to become part of the work and touch the architecture at the level of sound. Krakowiak has been awarded numerous prizes, including: St. John’s College of the University of Oxford, the Minister of Science and Higher Education and the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland and the American Trust for Mutual Education foundation. In 2012, she received a special award for the individual exhibition “Iżby ściany drżały, pęczniejąc skrywaną wiedzą o wielkiej mocy [Making the walls tremble as if they were swelling with the secret knowledge of great power]” (curator: Michał Libera) at the Polish Pavilion at the 13th International Architecture Exhibition in Venice. Since 2019, she has been the head of the Studio of Sound Activities at the Academy of Fine Arts in Warsaw. In 2020, she completed the work “It Begins with One Word. ChooseYourOwn” at the Mies van der Rohe Pavilion in Barcelona. She lives and works in Otwock and Oliva (Spain).[4]

Franciszek Sterczewski – architect, activist and politician. In 2014, he graduated from engineering studies at the Faculty of Architecture and Design at the University of Arts in Poznań. He was professionally associated with the Poznań International Fair, where he worked as a development strategy coordinator. Animator of city events, such as: “Picnic at Plac Wolności,” “Pstryk,” “The Funeral of Winter,” “Kino Grunwald,” “City Action Day.” He lives and works in Warsaw and Poznań.

Exhibition curator: Agnieszka Sukienniczak – interior designer, art curator. She gained professional experience working in Ljubljana, Berlin and Poznań, a graduate of the University of Arts. Since 2019, he has been organizing architectural workshops as part of the Architektour initiative. Nominated in the competition for the best M.Sc. Maria Dokowicz and the competition of prof. Alicja Kępińska for the best theoretical work (2020). While working on curatorial projects, she analyzes exhibition strategies for buildings. He is constantly looking for the relationship between art and architecture. In 2020, she won the 4th edition of the “Competition for curators”, organized by the Jan Tarasin Art Gallery in Kalisz.

The honorary patron of the exhibition is SARP Poznań, the media patronage over the exhibition was taken by: Fundacja Na Dużą Skalę, Notes na 6 Tygodni and a magazine for people with a sense of space: Architektura & Biznes.


[1] Noise Pollution. Data and statistics, http://www.euro.who.int/en/health-topics/environment-and-health/noise/data-and-statistics, access: February 15, 2020.

[2] W.Lutosławski, O muzyce. Pisma i wypowiedzi [On Music. Writings and statements], Gdańsk 2012, p.38.

[3] Z. Dembiec, access: January 4, 2021, http://zuzannadembiec.com/.

[4] K.Krakowiak, access January 4, 2021, http://katarzyna-krakowiak.com/pl/bio/.

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