Sound is part of our culture in all aspects. It is recognized by UNESCO as an intangible heritage and an essential component of the social landscape.
Sound is an invisible imprint that connects culture and contributes to the creation of local identity. Each territory hosts special and unmistakable sounds, a unique sound landscape, able to transmit memory in a continuous present.
Such sounds are endangered in our fast-changing environment, especially in urban areas.
As an essential part of daily life and a transmitter of local identity, sound deserves to be protected in order to strengthen the cultural memory.
It is this premise that lies at the basis of our multidisciplinary project aiming to investigate the close relationship between the Romanian territory and its sound memory.
About / Project
As each community has certain landmarks that distinguish it and give it a unique vibe, so does each community have a sound imprint, a unique sound that makes it special.
Each sound landscape has its own history, which, together with the territory, changes as time goes by, or sometimes even disappears. Romania Sonora starts from exploring several cities and villages in Romania. Dr. Bogdan Iancu (assistant professor of anthropology) and Dr. Monica Stroe (lecturer of anthropology) also contributed to the choice of these places.
The trip took place in the summer of 2019. We have chosen specific materials (of any shape and composition) and we have recorded audio materials with the soundscape (both ambient and voices) from each place we have explored. We have then processed the artefacts and recordings in order to create a series of artworks (the Sound Sculptures).
The Sound Sculptures will play the artistically processed audio materials by means of an audio amplification system that embedded in them. The Sound Sculptures will be presented, in the first phase, in an exhibition in Bucharest, and subsequently the exhibition will take place in other cities in Europe
Purpose and objectives
The aim of the Romania Sonora project is to contribute to the preservation of the cultural soundscapeof Romania by collecting culturally significant imprints and creating an archive of material and sound memory.
The exhibition of artworks (Sound Sculptures) created at the end of the project artistically reflects anthropic landscapes and communities in Romania, captured in their temporal, social and customary specifics.
The objectives of the project are the documentation of sound, images and materials of places and communities in Romania, with a specific cultural and sound imprint, the artistic extraction and processing of cultural dominants and the organisation of an exhibition acting as material and sound archive and allowing the Romanian and European public to acknowledge the specifics of various communities.
The artistic creation is based on direct research and knowledge of the targeted locations and on the basis of an extensive pre-documentation. The research was done both in advance and on the spot, mainly by contacting key people from each location. We also made audio recordings, video recordings and photos and from each place we collected / purchased the materials and objects that are used in the Sound culptures. The field research technique reveals the local specifics, the unaltered identity of each location and each community. Also, only through on-site research, through direct interaction with people and places, can the artistic impression establishing the vision, the concept and the artistic expression of each work be refined. The following operations will be carried out in each visited location:
Anthropological, environmental and symbolic research, which includes:
– recording of the ambient (environmental) soundscape;
– audio recording of voices, stories, songs or confessions.
Collection / purchase of artefacts and materials of different nature, texture and shape (wood, metal, textiles, ceramics, plastics).
At the end of the journey, all the sound recordings and the collected artefacts are processed individually following the three stages below.
– Audio processing For each location, sound recordings are selected and processed using special software for calibrating sound and volume. The result will be transferred to a micro SD card.
– Artefacts processing The artefacts collected from each location are processed (if necessary) or transformed to reach the intended shape.
– Embedding the recorded sound into the processed artefacts
Acoustic speakers of different sizes and ranges of power, as well as an amplifier, are embedded into the processed artefacts in order to reproduce the pre-recorded audio material. The sound of each work is designed individually, depending on its specificity and sound potential.
In August 2019, the Romania Sonora team officially started the project. We covered about 1,800 km and explored especially the center, north and east of Romania. These are the locations we have investigated:
Bucharest – Danube Delta – Târgu Mureș – Gornești – Turda saline – Gherla – Cluj-Napoca – Izvoru Crișului – Săpânța – Sighetu Marmației – Cornești – Desești – Breb – Budești – Nicolae’s Mill – Bârsana – Poienile Izei – Ieud – Sucevița – Voroneț Monastery – Saschiz – Viscri
We searched for strong specific expressions, descriptors of the local identity in each of these locations. The choice of locations for documentation and production of works took into account their sound potential and their cultural value. We looked for both out of the ordinary manifestations of the soundscape: orthodox churches services; workshops, industrial spaces; fairs; rituals and traditions (such as the pre-wedding ritual we attended in Maramureș, Poienile Izei) and for the sounds of everyday life, such as ambient sounds, people’s stories. Below we briefly describe and depict experiences from several locations we have visited.
The Sound Sculptures, each representative for a location we have investigated, a symbol of the identity of the territory and communities, will be presented in a replicable exhibition that aims to stop and manifest our sound and material time, to make it public, experimental and conscious.
The exhibition will be a material and sound map of the Romanian territory, a mosaic of visual, sound and tactile suggestions related to the concreteness of the places, but also to the human groups that live and act in these places. The visitor is invited to analyse her/his own deconstructed / reconstructed territory and to “live” the soundscape.
The Romania Sonora project, through vision and substance, is an artistic construct that particularizes the need for artistic diversification, exploration of new formulas that capitalize on the artistic potential of new technologies and the creation of bridges between science, technology and arts – on the one hand – and between the various artistic disciplines – on the other hand. The project is also at a crossroads between postmodernism, modernism and various traditions and between local and universal.
Sound sculptures are, in themselves, an innovative artistic product, which capitalizes on recent technologies (or the latest miniaturization of older electronic or intelligent devices) and artistic visions with a wide echo in contemporary art.