Plastic modes of listening: affordance in constructed sound environments

Sjölin, A. 2011. Plastic modes of listening: affordance in constructed sound environments. PhD thesis University of Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design

TitlePlastic modes of listening: affordance in constructed sound environments
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsSjölin, A.

This thesis is concerned with how the ecological approach to perception with the inclusion of listening modes, informs the creation of sound art installation, or more specifically as referred to in this thesis as constructed sound environments.

The basis for the thesis has been a practiced based research where the aim and

purpose of the written part of this PhD project has been to critically investigate the area of sound art, in order to map various approaches towards participating in and listening to a constructed sound environment. The main areas has been the notion of affordance as coined by James J. Gibson (1986), listening modes as coined by Pierre Schaeffer (1966) and further developed by Michel Chion (1994), aural architects as coined by Blesser and Salter (2007) and the holistic approach towards understanding sound art developed by Brandon LaBelle (2006).

The findings within the written part of the thesis, based on a qualitative analysis, have informed the practice that has resulted in artefacts in the form of seven constructed sound environments that also functions as case studies for further analysis.

The aim of the practice has been to exemplify the methodology, strategy and progress behind the organisation and construction of sound environments

The research concerns points towards the acknowledgment of affordance as the

crucial factor in understanding a constructed sound environment. The affordance

approach govern the idea that perceiving a sound environment is a top-down process where the autonomic quality of a constructed sound environment is based upon the perception of structures of the sound material and its relationship with speaker placement and surrounding space. This enables a researcher to side step the

conflicting poles of musical/abstract and non-musical/realistic classification of sound elements and regard these poles as included, not separated elements in the analysis of a constructed sound environment.

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