Últimos posts
Tema - Architect and Society
Tema - Critical Thinking
Tema - diseño
Tema - entornos de arquitectura
Tema - Profession
1

“Disposition” also implies taking a stance. That is to say, becoming aware. Didi-Huberman, George. The Eye of History: When Images Take Positions. “Distancing is to visually reveal, by displaying, the relationships between things shown together and added according to their differences.” “It is here, when different images take up a position in a given montage, thereby decomposing their chronology, that they can tell us something different about our own history.” Cited in Pelegrín, M. & Pérez, F. Arquitectura Dispuesta: Preposiciones Cotidianas (Disposed Architecture: Day-to-Day Prepositions), Universidad de Sevilla, 2015.

2

In her text A Swerve, Felicity Scott highlights the potential of such unsolvable contradictions or aporias as spaces of decisive change. Numerous classical aporias have been solved through a change of paradigm, world view, episteme, or technique. Such aporias might be seen as signs and beginnings of other types of risk, not only in the sense of spatial, material, and architectural speculation but also as risks through which new ways of living can be tested. Marta Pelegrín and Fernando Pérez, at MEDIOMUNDO arquitectos, are today fully aware of this situation as they engage in their professional activity, striving to share a space where it can be confronted as a means of encouraging and stimulating our imagination. In Pelegrín, M.& Pérez, F. ibid..

3

With regard to negotiation between different actors and the provisional nature of their arrangement, the elements deployed form part of the museum’s life cycle. From now on, future devices will be used in the museum to allow observation, sensorial experience and, again, listening.

A Disposition to Listen

AUDIOSPHERE_ Exhibition at the Reina Sofía. Diagram by author (Marta Pelegrín).

In October 2020, the MNCA Reina Sofía inaugurated Audiosphere. Sound Experimentation 1980-2020, an exhibition featuring over a thousand works of sound creation and experimental music. The adaptation of the exhibition space on the third floor of the Sabatini building by Marta Pelegrín and Fernando Pérez of MEDIOMUNDO arquitectos was designed to create a disposition to listen, to explore a new way of interacting with the sound productions on display despite their intangibility.

 

In this context, the word disposition refers both to a spatial concept (the idea of arranging1, displaying) and to an attitude (a willingness or preparedness), a way of interacting and listening. The Reina Sofia project has no objects or images. The idea was therefore to offer space which could potentially alter the usual flow of the spectator’s attention from the “source-work”—the provider of concrete visual and experiential stimuli more frequently found in contemporary art—towards the (immaterial) sounds themselves and interiorise them through the act of listening.

 

The very wish to constrain something as ethereal as sounds within the walls of a museum is, in itself, somewhat contradictory

The design of Audiosphere’s listening spaces was thus preconditioned by the Sabatini building’s existing envelope and circulation routes.

The building’s architecture, with its classical, perspective-based Renaissance representation of space, is a consecutive rather than a synchronous phenomenon, and generates a sequential spatial awareness dictated by time—in this case, listening time. The architectural task therefore involved projecting spatial experience in time and vice versa.

 

A quick look at the tradition of sound architecture reveals how architecture can perform a specific function as a magical sound box. Well-known examples include Wagner’s telescopic proscenium at the Bayreuth Festspielhaus, Garnier’s bourgeois cathedral for la foule in Paris, Semper’s and Hansenauer’s Gesamtkunstwerk in the Burgtheater, Behren’s and Olbrich’s Festivals of Life and Art developments at the Darmstadt Artists’ Colony, and the transcendental theatre created in Hellerau by Appia, Dalcroze, Salzmann and Tessenow: spatial phenomena which laid the ground rules for spatial experimentation and construction for the arts in general and for the constantly evolving art of sound in particular. These might be considered fertile archaeological traces of projects which used architecture to create new sensations, new systems of perception and sensorial pleasure. As spaces specifically designed for amplification and creation, they impose a constant compromise between architectural permanence and malleability: an experience which necessarily involves architecture and the arts in a process of negotiation.

 

In 1890 the phonograph became commercially available and by 1925 music was already being recorded and played back on electronic devices, thus multiplying the possibilities of spaces associated with listening time. Today, electronics make it possible for us to observe, from multiple platforms, new sounds that generate new, as yet unrepresented, spaces. Nevertheless, the desire to combine space and time as an exercise in artistic creativity has also produced other great examples in which architecture and space propose a double experience, pavilions that now form part of the exhibition and event circuit as experimental laboratories for the production of spatialised music and soundscapes. Take, for example, the Philips Pavilion by Xenakis and Le Corbusier, Saarinen’s IBM Pavilion, Prometheus’  Ark by Piano and Nono and Zumptor’s Swiss Pavilion in Hannover. These are exquisite acoustic systems, communicative instruments associated with sequenced sound proposals and experiences, with rhythm, a beginning, and an end. These experiences and buildings are often linked to their own specific show, a raison d’être without which they cannot live. But they enhance and complete the sound work.

Contemporary attitudes to space endorse and ceaselessly promote the design of multipurpose buildings: a hospital or a factory can be almost everything, as can a museum. The rooms dedicated to Audiosphere on the third floor of the MNCA Reina Sofía accommodate both traditions. They assume the risk of not having been designed as listening spaces, while at the same time allowing the experience and the information received to be governed by a guided itinerary based only on the inherited attributes of the existing rooms and their balance of light, colour, and places for reflection3.

 

It is not easy to design a space where the public can listen to sound files on individual headphones synchronised to correspond to their movement from one room to another. The groupings compiled for each room reveal the cultural output and practices that have made key creative issues problematic, such as the distinctions between author and producer, do-it-yourself and do-it-together, industry and creation, academia and experimental or underground culture, professional and amateur. These are reformulated categories, categories that have produced other aesthetic sensitivities parallel to the latest tastes, and the cultural importance of which is now again acknowledged. The exhibition is structured around seven sections addressing different social, technological, historical, and cultural processes: genealogies, networks, mega-accessibility, cyborgisation, aesthetogenesis, recombination and rights. Such processes, generated gradually and collectively and today widespread, are now identified, acknowledged, and analysed artistically. Each room is entered through a threshold space, a kind of antechamber where the listening experience informs visitors of the important role played by soundscapes in the transition from one century to another. In the final room, which is also the first, sound works are presented openly, this time within the space where they are to be experienced.

 

T.W. Adorno is known to have argued that music, as a work of art, can make people and society in general progress by contributing to thought evolution. However, his text On the Fetish-Character in Music and the Regression of Listening (Adorno, 1938) also provides an early warning about how the mass media transform music into merchandise and train by repetition, simplifying the listener’s criteria and levels of exigency. Audiosphere invites us to listen to a new latent reality, a myriad of creations which go beyond Adorno’s prophecy. The sounds featured include cultural output in the transition from the 20th to the 21st century. This extensive collection of audios seeks critically and constructively to reassess recent changes in the artistic conception of creative work with sound and its effects.

 

Earlier, we mentioned the two-directional flow of attention that conditioned the architectural design in this project—the idea of “both directions at once”, as John Coltrane described how a piece of music is played during a live jam session. That commitment would seem impossible to maintain without attentive, deliberate, projective listening: a radical, ever-present requirement in an architect’s work. The exhibition, then, invites its visitors to immerse themselves in a vast legacy of creative sound work, a legacy that offers them the chance to hone a key design skill: that of listening.

 

Colophon:

To get the sound take everything that is not the sound drop it

Down a well, listen.

Then drop the sound.

Listen to the difference.

Shatter.

“Epitaph: Evil”, Anne Carson. From “Men in the Off Hours”.


Text translated by Andrew V.Taylor
Notas de página
1

“Disposition” also implies taking a stance. That is to say, becoming aware. Didi-Huberman, George. The Eye of History: When Images Take Positions. “Distancing is to visually reveal, by displaying, the relationships between things shown together and added according to their differences.” “It is here, when different images take up a position in a given montage, thereby decomposing their chronology, that they can tell us something different about our own history.” Cited in Pelegrín, M. & Pérez, F. Arquitectura Dispuesta: Preposiciones Cotidianas (Disposed Architecture: Day-to-Day Prepositions), Universidad de Sevilla, 2015.

2

In her text A Swerve, Felicity Scott highlights the potential of such unsolvable contradictions or aporias as spaces of decisive change. Numerous classical aporias have been solved through a change of paradigm, world view, episteme, or technique. Such aporias might be seen as signs and beginnings of other types of risk, not only in the sense of spatial, material, and architectural speculation but also as risks through which new ways of living can be tested. Marta Pelegrín and Fernando Pérez, at MEDIOMUNDO arquitectos, are today fully aware of this situation as they engage in their professional activity, striving to share a space where it can be confronted as a means of encouraging and stimulating our imagination. In Pelegrín, M.& Pérez, F. ibid..

3

With regard to negotiation between different actors and the provisional nature of their arrangement, the elements deployed form part of the museum’s life cycle. From now on, future devices will be used in the museum to allow observation, sensorial experience and, again, listening.

Autor:
Co-fundadora del Estudio de Arquitectura MEDIOMUNDO Arquitectos y jurado en la VII Edición Arquia/Próxima 2018-2019, representante de la zona sur. Doctora arquitecta (ETSA Sevilla) y profesora de proyectos arquitectónicos desde 2007 en la misma escuela. Es coordinadora y profesora de Cátedra Blanca Sevilla, desde 2007.

Deja un comentario

Tu correo no se va a publicar.

Últimos posts