Sound Space Body

Fondazione Pistoletto – UNIDEE
Mentors: Attila Faravelli, Enrico Malatesta
guest: Nicola Ratti


Sound, space, body, research, aural awareness, participation, field recording, walking, ecological perception, affordances, experiential design, appropriation, media cultural history, traditional music, sonic unconscious, rhythm, idiophones, alteration.

Module outline


The module revolves around sound and its modes of perception and production, with a focus on its fundamental relationship with body and space.

The week will be evenly divided between theoretical sessions and practical exercises, seeking to offer the participants a series of both conceptual and experiential tools for questioning common but too simplistic opposites like action vs. perception (active performer vs. passive listener), intentional music vs. unintentional noise, composition vs. improvisation, musical instrument vs. performer’s body, clean signal vs. effect.

In the theoretical part of the laboratory achievements will be discussed from fields as disparate as the Sound and Media Cultural Studies, the New Materialism philosophy, some heterodox branches of anthropology, non-western musical ethnography, paleo-acoustics, ecological perception and experiential design, experimental music; what emerges amidst such diverse approaches is the exclusive role played by sound in showing the fundamental interrelations between humans, animals and the just apparently inert materials and forces present in the environment. If considered well beyond the simplifications offered both by dominant musicology and the common discourse (or the absence of any discourse about it) in art critiques, sound can push toward an ethical incitement to explore and experience such complex and creative connections.

The practical part of the laboratory will take place in the greatly diversified spaces of Cittadellarte-Fondazione Pistoletto and in the foundation’s neighbourhood; the proposed exercises will consist in both site-specific sonic actions and field recording sessions.

Each participant will be provided with a series of very easy to use proto-instruments and guided through their use; these simple objects, unlike a musical instrument, are not so much intended for producing sound per se, instead they are conceived either as tools to enact the aural potentialities of a site or to display the specific responsiveness of the material itself they are built from. The aim of the proposed actions is to produce sound out of a negotiation between hearing-listening by a specific body to the site’s affordances, wherein the participants are asked to listen to themselves while in the act of producing sound in a specific space and time, realizing an embodied awareness of the complex aural capacities of body and space.

The field recording sessions confront the soundscape of the environment in its rougher, unmediated form, as an apparent collection of unrelated and unintentional sonic phenomena, forcing the listener to seek for different kinds of organizational structures and forms.

No specific musical skills are needed to participate.




• J.-F. Augoyard, H. Torgue, Repertorio degli effetti sonori, LIM, 2010, trad. it. a cura di Sabrina Doria

• J. Blacking, How Musical Is Man, University of Washington Press, 1974

• B. Blesser, L. Ruth Salter, Spaces speak, are you listening? Experiencing Aural Architecture, The MIT Press, 2006

• B. Buxton, Sketching User Experiences: Getting the Design Right and the Right Design, Focal Press, 2007

• C. Cox, “Sound Art and the Sonic Unconscious”, in Organised Sound, Vol. 14, 2009, pp. 19-26

• C. Cox, “Beyond Representation and Signification: Toward a Sonic Materialism, in Journal of Visual Culture [],
SAGE Publications, 201

• A. Dix, “Designing for Appropriation”, talk given at University of Technology Berlin, 12 February 2008 (unpublished)

• S. Feld, Sound and Sentiment: Birds, Weeping, Poetics, and Song in Kaluli Expression, University of Pennsylvania Press, 1982

• W. Gaver, “What in the World Do We Hear?: An Ecological Approach to Auditory Perception”, in Ecological Psychology, Vol. 5(1), Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 1993, pp. 1-29

• W. Gaver, “How Do We Hear in the World, Explorations”, in Ecological Acoustics, Ecological Psychology, Vol. 5(4), Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc, 1993, pp. 285-313

• T. Ingold, The Perception of the Environment: Essays on Livelihood, Dwelling and Skill, Psychology Press, 2000

• D. B. Massey, For Space, Sage, 2005

• G. Ryle, The Concept of Mind, Hutchin Son’s University Library, 1949

• J. Sterne, The Audible Past: Cultural Origins of Sound Reproduction, Duke University Press, 2003

• E. Thompson, “The Soundscape of Modernity Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening”, in America, 1900–1933, The MIT Press, 2002, pp. 281-4