Transient Lapse

2012 | public site-specific installation | Tunnel Lekstraat-Schenkkade, Binckhorst, The Hague
8-channel audio, purpose-built speakers, Max/MSP software | 24-hour cycles
collaboration with Juan Cantizzani

Transient Lapse is a site-specific sound installation created for a pedestrian and cyclist tunnel in The Hague. The work introduces a shifting aural topography based on the daily rhythms and the resonant architecture of the location.

The sound changes over the 24-hour cycle, interacting with the existing soundscape and the movements of passers-by. The result is an added aural layer which is perceived as not having physical origin and belong to the site. As an unmarked sound intervention in the threshold of perception, the work aims to induce a switch of focus, a momentary lapse in the urban transit experience. The piece invites to be discovered, to maybe stop and listen.

The project draws inspiration from the notion of ‘Rhythmanalisis’ proposed by Henri Lefebvre, on which he outlined a method for analyzing the rhythms of urban spaces and their effects on the inhabitants of those spaces. The spatial behaviour of the sound and the overall temporal structure are based on the cyclical rhythms of the site, accompanying, contrasting and enhancing them.

The sound is generated in real-time, controlled with a software tool written specially for the project. The piece is based on scored algorithmic processes linked to a clock. This compositional approach makes the sound to be similar every day/night at each of the 24-hours, with variations in spatial and timing aspects due to the algorithmic behaviour. The source audio materials consist of streams of computer-generated synthetic sound based on an analysis of the resonant characteristics of the tunnel and additional materials based on transformed recordings made through large structures on site using accelerometers (very sensitive contact microphones). Each of the eight independent synchronized audio channels are spatialized through purpose-built loudspeakers disguised across the 90 meter length of the tunnel.

The experience of being there and the subtleties which are at the core of this work are not possible to be conveyed through any recording. The piece which accompanies this documentation of the intervention features a layered collage of excerpts taken from a set of durational stereo recordings made over a 24-hour period. All recordings were made at the same fixed positions inside the tunnel with the two microphones spaced around 30 meter. It is recommended to listen with good quality headphones.

The development of the project was documented through a blog at the webpage of the Binckhorst Sound Mapping Group. This is a collaborative urban sound-mapping initiative working in the Binckhorst area in The Hague, started at the Institute of Sonology in 2011.

Acknowledgments: Justin Bennett, Ed Jansen, Silvia Janoskova, Hans Latenstein and Jelleke Truijen (Gemeente Den Haag), Aukelien & Niels Leerentveld, Ronald Scholtens and Mascha Vandekuinder, Yolanda Uriz & Angel Faraldo, Edwin van der Heide, Lex van den Broek and Anne Wellmer.