The Aural Eye
Soundscape Practice and Pedagogy in Design Education1
Keywords:Soundscape studies, Design education, Interdisciplinary practice
Human aural experience can be equally considered along spatial and temporal continuums. We hear at all times of the day and night, and within all places and spaces: built, natural, public, private and virtual. The territory – both physical and philosophical – between music composition for interior listening and traditional sound based research within environmental acoustics is gradually being occupied by the listener-centred approach of soundscape studies. Soundscape design is emerging as an interdisciplinary field within design education, and one that not only challenges the ocular-centric nature of most design education, but one that could provide a useful mode through which to investigate the coincidences between different design disciplines.
This paper draws on the author’s own practice as a sound designer in a variety of spatial sound projects in built and virtual contexts to discuss ideas of landscape, interiority, space and place as experienced through listening. This will include aspects of Canopies: chimerical acoustic environments for the Southgate soundscape system, Ecstasis: human presence in digital environments for an interactive VR system and stereoscopic projections, and The Occupation of Space: Soundsites project with the Melbourne blind community.2
The ideas and technologies underpinning these projects also form the basis of a new pedagogy of sound and listening housed in the Spatial Information Architecture Laboratory’s (SIAL) Sound Studios at RMIT University. The place and role of the Sound Studio’s program in providing an aural perspective that compliments the visual methodologies of co-located design disciplines is discussed.
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