Improving models for urban soundscape systems
Large-scale urban soundscape systems offer novel environments for electroacoustic composers, sound artists and sound designers to extend their practice beyond concert halls, art galleries and screen-based digital media. One such system with 156 loudspeakers was installed in 1991 on the Southgate Arts and Leisure Precinct in central Melbourne. Over the next 15 years another three large multichannel soundscape systems were installed on other sites close to the first. A fifth system was established for a single work of art in 2006. Despite this private and public investment in sound art estimated at over one million Australian dollars, several systems are no longer in operation while some remaining systems require technical and curatorial development to ensure their continued cultural presence. To investigate why some systems had failed, interviews were conducted with key players in the development and operation of the five systems. A report from the interviews was produced and is the basis of this paper framing critical issues for improving models of urban soundscape practice. Following a brief overview of related studies in urban sound practices, and descriptions of the system and original study, key themes that emerged from the interviews are examined.
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