Spatial Sound


4DSOUND: Circadian investigates how spatial listening influences conscious states throughout the day and night. The range of our perception, our conscious state, is determined by physiological changes in the brain. These changes are themselves subject to the rhythm that governs our wake-sleep cycle over 24 hours. These are the circadian rhythms, our internal body clock: physical, mental and behavioural changes influenced by levels of light and darkness, that guide our alertness throughout the day and mental processes, and dreams, throughout the night.

Together with a range of collaborators from the field of arts, technology and science, we investigate the nature of our conscious states and how understanding these states can lead to new interactive forms of art. We explore new ways how to physically connect the listeners with the surrounding space, by using bio-physical media, movement and psycho-acoustic stimulation. So when we listen spatially, we actually listen to ourselves, our feelings and state within – and through – space.

With a 24-hour programme consisting of sound and movement workshops, immersive sonic meditation, participative spatial performances, overnight collective dreamstate and inspirational lectures and talks, 4DSOUND seeks to embody the range of conscious states of the listener throughout the day, encouraging heightened awareness of the environment, deeper sense of mind-body connection, personal insight, creative expression, empathic sensitivity and social interaction.

The programme is part of our ongoing investigation into the role of sound in perception, outlined by 4DSOUND’s Creative Director John Connell in his article Understanding Space through Sound, and underlying the development of an ‘Ecology of Listening’: how the quality of our listening environment can refine and enhance our mental and physical state.

4DSOUND: Circadian opened with a performance by New York-based artist Lisa Park. Lisa worked with EEG brainwave headsets as a self-monitoring tool to measure her emotional response to the world around her. NUE, meaning silkworm in Korean, transforms the physical space of 4DSOUND as Lisa moves through the system wearing a 200-metre long white dress, weaving an intricate web of passages, pockets and walls. Confined within the web, the audience interacts with Lisa as she moves in the space, through whispering, looking, and touching. Driven by Lisa’s brainwaves, a sound world unfolds that encompasses the audience in its unravelling structure. Sonic textures melt together or fall apart based on Lisa’s emotional state, being tense or calm, focused or distracted.

Kazuya Nagaya is a Japanese artist who creates immersive, ritualised compositions through the use of bronze bells, gongs and singing bowls. Kazuya performed a series of sonic immersions composed specifically for the evening or morning hours, working with spatialized gong and beat tones tuned to specific frequencies to induce deep meditative state.

Noqturnl is an overnight audiovisual meditation exploring collective dreamstate, by visual artist and art director Florence To and sound designer and 4DSOUND’s creative director John Connell. Noqturnl takes participants through a series of spaces as they drift between waking and dreaming throughout the night. Conveyed through patterns and structures of light and shifting soundscapes working with tones, field recordings and voice, individual dream environments are evoked with their own distinct moods and interactions. A meditative experience, Noqturnl offers participants the chance for a dialogue with non-ordinary states of awareness and self-reflection.

Robert Jan Liethoff is a Berlin-based actor, dramaturgist and voice movement teacher. His work draws on the aspects of voice physiology as a departure point for the development of sound-oriented bodywork. Robert hosted a sound lecture for 4DSOUND: Circadian inviting participants to explore a physical listening practice. Can we activate and sharpen our auditory perception? What do our ears consider a healthy sound texture? And what influence does this have on our spatial-sound-awareness, both internal and external?

Performance artist and acupuncturist Michelle Lewis-King created bespoke sonic compositions by utilising Chinese pulse diagnosis to read the interior cosmological landscape of another person – a method that creates unique records of moments of embodied consciousness that exists between oneself and another, and between different cultural approaches for understanding and mediating the body. Pulse reading, comparative case histories, real-time graphic scoring of participant’s pulses and generative soundscape compositions are techniques used to inquire into the cultural encounter between human beings, medicine and technology.

According to the Greek philosopher Pythagoras [~570 -500 B.C.] the highest form of music is ‘Musica Mundana’, also known as the harmony of the spheres. This music distinguishes the everlasting harmonic order between numbers, tones and the cosmos. In an Artist Panel hosted by 4DSOUND founder Paul Oomen concepts and practices were discussed that investigate cosmic forces on our consciousness, like the effect of frequencies on our mental and physical state and the relationship between intuition, dreams and space.

For 4DSOUND:Circadian, Marco Donnarumma challenges visitors with a visceral and communal ritual of sensory affection. 0:Infinity is an unstable and reactive architecture of infrasound vibrations, audible sounds and high-powered lights brought to life by and through the visitors’ bodies. The architecture grows, morphs and falls apart through time, space and frequency using biophysical signals and movement data from the visitors’ bodies. Using the Xth Sense, Donnarumma’s bio-wearable musical instrument, the inaudible sonic vibrations from the visitors’ hearts, blood flow and muscles are amplified and turned into tangible sonic material. A UWB location tracking system is used to make the architecture aware of the visitors’ positions and paths in space and thus morph according to the spatial relation between participants. The intimacy, or lack thereof, of the visitor’s encounters in space drives intense sonic and physical resonances. Human body parts and machine parts are configured into a total space of networked bodies.

Already in his time, the Greek philosopher Pythagoras [~570 -500 B.C.] distinguished a particular category of music as ‘Musica Humana’: the incessant but inaudible tones and rhythms that the body produces, like a continuous question and answer between the body and the mind. In the present, we witness an emerging field of technologies and methodologies that allow us to capture those inaudible streams in the body and the mind, and make them audible in ways we might not have held possible. In this artist panel we discussed different approaches, both old and new, how to musically read the body.

Circadian premiered 24-27th of September in the Electriciteitsfabriek at TodaysArt 2015, the festival for contemporary art and music in The Hague, Netherlands.