Monday, 25 January 2010

change your view

Based on the idea that contemplating natural environments has a restorative effect, I am proposing to create installations that could be used in empty city centre shops using imagery or cctv footage of natural environments.  I had a positive response from Matt Easteal of Brighton and Hove Council Environmental Improvement Team,  who explained the purpose of the large scale images they have been positioning on disused buildings. They are intended to combat vandalism and graffiti. Passers by agree that they enjoy looking at them: an alternative to the hoardings but not an advertisment.

Sunday, 24 January 2010

Stand still, step up, mark one

One way to have a moments respite, to escape the claustrophobia of the crowded environment is to step up. First trial of a step to nowhere, somewhere to stand still, elevate yourself , a look out post . We realised that the surface area makes you stand up straight, not so relaxing. Also that maybe you need something to lean on.


Thursday, 21 January 2010

City Centre Sounds

I  have been asking people in Brighton what they like and dislike about city centre sounds :

Not surprisingly, they find the sound of horns, sirens, shouting, car alarms, traffic, construction work uncomfortable and irritating.

They prefer the sound of the sea, the birds. Basically when they need a break they go to the seafront or the pavilion gardens.

Are there ways to change irritating noises into something less uncomfortable? It turns out that the same principle that makes it sound as though you can hear the sea in a shell applies to cup  shaped objects held at a slight distance from the ear. Apparently the lounder the ambient noise levels the louder the swooshing sound. Perhaps physical adaptations to urban environments could create listening posts..

Wearable sound baffles

Is it possible to use the principles of anechoic chambers to absorb sound in clothing? Could pleating and smocking techniques that use soft warm materials but also increase surface area, dampen surrounding sound and improve ability to have a conversation in noisy environments?

Rob Oldfield currently doing a PhD in 3D sound at Salford university advises:"Urban soundscapes often have quite a lot of low frequency sound but it is usually the higher frequency (1000Hz-10000Hz) sound that we humans find the most annoying (that's because they are the frequencies similar to speech and we are most sensitive to them).Concentrate on trying to make the higher frequencies lower because these are more annoying anyway (alarms, whistles, screeching breaks)

Your idea of the pleating/smocking is really good because this is a good way to absorb sound (usually if you imagine something that is good for keeping you warm/insulating, it will also be good at absorbing sound too) So you could be on to a winner with that, thicker material and bigger pleats will be better for lower frequencies and will absorb more sound in general. "

Friday, 15 January 2010

measuring sound

Advice on testing efficacy of baffles to cut out certain frequencies includes a number of methods:
  1. Play white noise and use sound meter to measure sound levels from a microphone close to the ear, with and without the baffles
  2. Play white noise and record with and without baffles. Import into Logic Pro to view frequencies that are affected
this head size screen in the sound booth at university of brighton is lined with acoustic foam to further dampen sound for voice recording purposes. Can this be transposed to a portable/wearable accessory to make it easier to speak in noisy cafe environments?

Saturday, 9 January 2010

books make libraries quiet

Jane Fordham pointed out to me the other day that it is the books that make libraries quiet. A complete self fulfilling physical effect. You need quiet in order to read. If you have enough books they create a physical equivalent of an anechoic chamber, i.e. multiple non reflective surfaces that are also insulating. Think of all those remainder books that get pulped that could be used to build quiet places....