Universiteit Leiden

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PhD project

Scorescapes: on sound, environment and sonic consciousness

How does sound mediate our relationship to environment? And how can contemporary multidisciplinary art practices articulate and explore this relation between sound and environment?

Frans de Ruiter

Scorescapes is predicated on the idea that artists and scientists are a part of the sonic environments we study. Thus we cannot assume a passive role of listening without recognising the influence of our actions and presence on the environment with which we engage. The systemic relationship among elements in a complex ecology demands an active approach in which we conceive of ourselves as immersed participants rather than simply as objective observers. This realisation, in turn, demands challenging conventional conceptions of the composer as musical specialist and embracing a trans-disciplinary approach towards sound and sonic research. Given this attitude towards direct engagement in environment, my work as an artist forms a central part of my research method.

The Scorescapes project includes audio-visual installations and performances, performative lectures, electronic instruments, sonic walks and collaborations with improvising musicians. In addition, the project has involved close interactions with composers David Dunn, Alvin Lucier and Pauline Oliveros, and bio-acoustic scientist Michel André. Engaging with these experts and creating and presenting new works allows me to apply and test theoretical ideas. This, in turn, encourages new and unexpected questions to arise that can then be explored theoretically. The written dissertation combines analysis of theoretical texts on sound, scores, environmental aesthetics and scientific papers, with reflections on my personal experiences and discoveries in recording, editing, exhibiting and performing my artistic works.

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