In Acoustic Territories, Brandon LaBelle writes that

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...The home can be appreciate as a counter-balance to the dynamics of exposure. The experience of coming home gives us comfort and reprieve from the demands of the exterior world. To pull off the shoes, make a tea, and sit back on the sofa defines the home as a soft space for quiet moments and relaxing comfort. It is where we sleep, falling into the softness of bed and the tiny sounds of the night outside... ...Against the growing metropolis, and the intensities of modern labour, the home became a place for alternative productions, outside or against the modern commodity - a place for re-establishing a psychic centre. Domestic space became a haven, refined through object collecting, interior design, furnishing, and a general spatial ordering that might renew a feeling for the material world... In these domestic constructions, the maintenance of a clear set of values is expressed in the ordering of landscape, homely artifice, and the rhythms of coordinated organisation… Designing the home then is immediately reflective of needs that are physical as well as psychological and emotional. Such perspective carries within it a sense for auditory clarity, where order is equated with quiet, and the maintenance of domestic life with audible regulation. To come home is to seek refuge, however consciously, from the uncontrollable flows of noise and the harangue of the exterior… ...In the weave of self and sound the home might be said to function as an elaborated "sonorous envelope" keeping safe, or functioning to replicate, an imaginary or primary aural warmth. The home literalizes the physical and emotional needs of individual or family life, extending the wants and needs of an interior self to domestic space - home is where the heart is needs to be taken quite literally. Yet home is also where the ear is, and where the tensions between comfort and disruption are put in the balance…

Above content taken from Acoustic Territories ©Brandon LaBelle, 2010, used by kind permission of Continuum International Publishing Group, a Bloomsbury company
1. What does the first paragraph tell us about “Sonic Wallpaper?” i.e. if we are designing sounds which might theoretically exist permanently within our homes, “papering” our rooms with a particular kind of audible texture, what kinds of sounds would we need to use in order to not disrupt the need for “reprieve” from “the demands of the exterior world?” What sounds do you associate with “coming home”? In terms of the change in sounds, how do you experience the transition of moving from outdoors, public life into indoors, private life? Are there any sounds which you feel relieved to not have to hear when you are in your home—or vice versa? Are there any sounds which you miss from the outdoors world when you are indoors—or vice versa? Thinking of the second paragraph of LaBelle’s text above, do you think we can choose sounds in the same way that we can choose furniture, and in the way that we visually design our interiors to “maintain a clear set of values?” i.e. can we choose to introduce sounds into our homes in ways which might help us to establish our desired “sonic” aesthetic? Do we in fact already do this? What do you do to maintain your domestic soundscape? What are the sonic elements of home life which you deliberately control to create an atmosphere which you need in order to fee sheltered and comfortable in your home? Which of the following acoustic interventions into domestic space do you think of as being acts of “Sonic Wallpapering”? Do you think about deliberately introducing audible elements into your home (like other interior design elements) to create a distinctive feeling or atmosphere? Add to the list if you have other ideas! Mood CD (sounds of ocean, rainforest etc.) | The Radio (on in the background) | The TV (on in the background) | Windchimes | Aeolian Harp | A purpose-made recording, played on a stereo | Features like wood fires used specifically for the sounds they introduce | Other 8. Consider LaBelle’s statements that “home is where the heart is...home is also where the ear is”; what are the intimate sounds of home which you consider to be closest to your heart? What sounds would or could you introduce into your home (and by what means?) to celebrate the things in your life which you care about most? Describe an imaginary “Sonic Wallpaper” which reflects some of the ideas in LaBelle’s text above, explaining how, why or whether you would deliberately introduce sounds into your home in the way that you introduce visuals to both express yourself, and to create a sense of “primal, aural warmth”.

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Questions by Felicity Ford, for the Sonic Wallpaper project, http://sonicwallpapers.blogspot.com

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