Previous Issue Abstracts
2019 Vol. 9.2 Special Issue: Sounding Heritage
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Listening Beyond the Visible
Overhearing History: Sound as Historical Material
Pamela Jordan, Dr. Sabine von Fischer
Lending an Ear to Architectural History: Commemorating Meyershof, ca. 1932
Florence Feiereisen, Erin Sassin
While there is an extensive body of literature on the history of Berlin's mass housing in visual terms, we approach architectural history via acoustic ecology to add a sonic layer to our understanding of the built environment. Listening to the soundscapes of Meyershof, an infamous Berlin tenement, we discuss the relationship between architectural form, sound, and the everyday experiences of the residents. Mining architectural plans, artistic representations, and earwitness accounts in newspaper articles and police reports of the time for sonic clues, our examination of the sights and sounds of Meyershof seeks to (literally) recall the sonic conditions of a time within which communities were formed, dissolved, and reformed. Against a monosensory understanding of the past through vision alone, we contend that the marginalized sense of hearing is a suitable approach to give marginalized groups a "voice."
Archaeoacoustics Fieldwork for Aural Heritage Conservation: Collaborative Distributed Sound-Sensing at Chavín de Huántar, Perú
Miriam A. Kolar, Annie Goh, Elías Gálvez-Arango, Brian Morris, Alexa Romano, Samantha Turley, Sophia Colello, William Penniman, Jack Boffa, Celine Wang, Gregory Depaul, Kevin Keene
Although sound has been featured in archaeological narratives about the UNESCO World Heritage Centre archaeological site at Chavín de Huántar, Perú since 1976, aural heritage preservation has not yet been incorporated in its conservation plan beyond the formal inclusion of archaeoacoustics in the research program since 2008. Our research framework situates sound as fundamental to human communication and the social functionality of places; sonic concerns are pertinent to heritage conservation more broadly than currently addressed. In this article, we present a theoretical framework and methodology for aural heritage research, engagement, and conservation. Our case-study discussion of 2018 fieldwork at Chavín builds on a decade of site-responsive archaeoacoustics research that has documented acoustical dynamics as well as perceptual and performance affordances of the extant architecture and site-excavated conch-shell horns (Strombus pututus) preserved since the mid-firstmillennium BCE. The aural heritage fieldwork method we introduce here, "collaborative distributed sound-sensing," employs both human observers and digital technologies to explore, document, measure, and map sound transmission and reception at Chavín, via reconstructive "performance auralizations" of archaeologically appropriate sound sources, Strombus shell replicas of the Chavín pututus.
The Ceramic Vessels of Trg: Acoustic Wall Construction in a Medieval Serbian Church
Zorana Đorđević, Dragan Novković, Filip Pantelić
This paper examines the existing acoustic conditions of the church in the village of Trg in eastern Serbia and investigates the acoustic effects of ceramic vessels originally embedded in the church walls but extracted when the church was restored to its original medieval layout in the 1980s. The impulse response of the church's interior space was measured in situ, providing the various acoustic parameters that numerically describe the acoustic field of a space, of which we particularly considered the reverberation time (T30), early decay time (EDT) and the speech transmission index (STI). We acoustically measured all of the eleven remaining intact vessels, and we built a 3D acoustic model of the vessels for the lab analysis. Our findings suggest that the vessels positioned as found during the restoration works—vertically, upside down, at a height of 3.75 meters, behind a thin stone facing—made no discernible difference in the acoustics of the Trg church. However, comparative research via similar studies of medieval churches suggest that the original builders may have misinterpreted the technology of acoustic vessels and may have installed them in a manner that disabled their possible effect on church acoustics.
Concert Hall Acoustics and the Sounding Heritage of the Interwar Period in America: The Coolidge Auditorium (Library of Congress, Washington, DC, 1925)
Mark A. Pottinger
Starting in 1895 with the work of Wallace Clement Sabine (1868–1919), the science of architectural acoustics was born. Sabine's work on the materialization of sound influenced countless architects and physicists alike, including the famous New York City–based architect Charles A. Platt (1861–1933) and MIT physics instructor Clifford Melville Swan (1877–1951), a former student of Sabine. Both Platt and Swan collaborated on the design of the Coolidge Auditorium, housed in the Thomas Jefferson Building of the Library of Congress in Washington, DC. Built in 1925, the five-hundred-plus seat chamber hall highlights the idealized listening environment of the interwar period in America, which was still reeling from the noise-filled horrors of World War I as it embarked on a progressive agenda to build the modern urban metropolis. In spite of the increased popularity at the time for large purpose-built halls to house films, big band jazz performances, and grand spectacle entertainment, the Coolidge Auditorium presented a small, intimate space with an explicit desire to reform music in America. In this article I explore this early twentieth-century listening environment and conclude by comparing the Coolidge Auditorium to the concert hall of today, which I argue is directly connected to the built environment of the early twentieth century, with its growing fascination with radio transmission and electronically reproduced music.
Sound was an important element in residential and landscape design in ancient China. Acoustic sources of geophony, ecophony (tianlai and dilai in Chinese, meaning sound of heaven and earth), and anthrophony (renlai, man-made sound) are frequently used together with landscape, and sometimes also with scentscape, to make the living environs an ideal microcosm for cultivating minds and achieving unity with nature, a philosophical idea of Confucianism and Daoism that the elite class of society has pursued in the past. Dictated by this functional purpose, only sounds regarded as elegant or bestowed with philosophical, cultural, and religious meanings are chosen in the design. Currently, many of these designs have been preserved as soundscape heritage.
By 2019, of the forty-one Chinese cultural and mixed World Heritage properties designated by UNESCO, twenty-eight have sound as an important attribute testifying to the outstanding universal values. This paper gives an introduction to the Chinese perception of sound, followed by a detailed analysis of soundscapes of three world cultural heritage sites in terms of their philosophical and cultural meanings and design techniques, and finally a brief discussion of the challenges on the conservation and management of soundscape heritage.
Sound Archives and Online Repositories
2019 Vol. 9.1
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A Heritage of War, Conflict, and Commemoration
The introduction for the present issue of Change Over Time, this lead article discusses the five selected papers, providing a précis of each, and presents definitions for different types of war and conflict memorials. It then offers an overview of the history of memorialization, emphasizing the changing character of commemoration over time. Primary emphasis is on commemoration in the United States. The paper also touches upon related kinds of monuments, as well as presenting a summary of recent controversies over Civil War memorials and other forms of commemoration. A secondary emphasis is on the numbers and types of memorials and other markers and their distribution and how memorials are perceived over time. In addition to U.S. examples, Chapman discusses the commemoration of wars in Europe and elsewhere in the world, underscoring changing meaning and approaches. He also emphasizes shifting interpretations of commemorative sites and management issues pertaining to their maintenance and preservation.
This paper will focus on the Tunnel D-B in Sarajevo (aka Tunnel of Hope) –a rare example of war heritage that commemorates both human resilience and traumatic past. It has been 25years since its construction under gruesome circumstances during the siege of Sarajevo(1992 –1995). Today, decisions need to be made to preserve this unique heritage and continue the work of remembrance. A complex design project involving a memorial museum and an educational center is underway. This raises pertinent questions that are touching upon the very purpose of its existence and are, in fact, common to most sites commemorating difficult and traumatic histories. To address relevant topics, the paper discusses a) the notion of memorial architecture and current day design practices and approaches in commemorative projects on authentic sites, b) zooms into the specific context of Bosnia and Herzegovina and the Tunnel D-B and, finally, c) explains the concept design that is planned for the site of the Tunnel D-B.
This paper focuses on the Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's visit to the U.S.S. Arizona Memorial in Pearl Harbor in 2016. War memorials are generally considered agents of national thanksgiving, but paying closer attention to more diverse perspectives makes it possible to see more complicated commemorative practices that generate alternative narratives of wars and nationalism. The paper discusses a speech Abe gave at the memorial and the coverage of his visit in major Japanese newspapers to explore the changing meaning of Pearl Harbor to the people in Japan. The speech and the coverage enabled a new Japanese narrative that re-contextualizes the meaning of the iconic "Remember Pearl Harbor" phrase from a vision of military confrontation in the past to a future political alliance between the two nations. The paper shows the malleability of the significance of war memorials while also demonstrating the powerful grip of nationalism and political agenda over them.
Surprisingly common in UK cities bombed during the Second World War—perhaps less so in other countries--are the ruins of bombed churches, empty sites, or markers indicating a church's former presence in the city. There are also numerous restored or rebuilt churches with signs narrating the church's history of damage. This paper explores the nature and extent of such commemorations of destruction, particularly at a time when churchgoing was in sharp decline. Churches are, in many ways, 'special buildings' in the physical and mental urban landscape: landmarks for all if not as places of worship. The investment of past societies in such special buildings, their scale, position, intricate detailing, as well as their cultural connections, all suggest why churches might become prominent and memorable memorials. But, three-quarters of a century after the Second World War, there is very limited evidence that the bombed churches remain effective or widely used as memorials. This paper uses examples from across England to explore why and how some bombed churches became war memorials, and their transition over time from memorial to mere memento.
Oradour-sur-Glane: French Identity Memorialized
This manuscript, "Oradour sur Glane: French Identity Memorialized," is a study of the commemoration of the village Oradour sur Glane that was destroyed by German forces in World War II. To this day, the ruins themselves remain evidence of the vicious attack that took place on October 8, 1944. Part of the story of the ruins includes the decision to use them for remembrance. The other part includes the considerations as to how to maintain them enough to stop them from completely disappearing over time. The preservation decisions involved both the co-operation and assistance of local, regional and state authorities. At the same time, the symbolic significance of these ruins, independent of their material condition, remains a continuing issue. From the very beginning, what the ruins meant to those who survived--and those who emphasized more national and even universal concerns--has been a source of political and now historical dispute.
The current European migrant crisis has illustrated historic preservation's limits in incorporating sites of transience. During 2016, the Greek government managed its surge of migrants by erecting 50 dispersed camps throughout the mainland. Built out of tents, trailers, squats and other ephemeral architectures, refugee and migrant settlements leave a light footprint on the landscape and are easily erased. By design, camps perform impermanence to a double audience, to the natives who do not want their guests to settle permanently and to the migrants who wish to return home or advance to more stable accommodations. Using the region of Thessaly as a case study, we track the processes of settlement during the course of one year and examine the intersection between a single displaced Syrian group and the sites of cultural heritage in which they were temporarily housed. They include medieval monuments, abandoned industrial buildings, bankrupt markets, and decommissioned army bases. By possessing no real estate value, the ruins into which the new camps were inserted facilitated a process of adoptive reuse.