avance / retroceso

The project proposes an urban intervention in the La Perla neighborhood in Mar del Plata, Argentina. It uses the song of the birds as the starting point in order to reveal the relationships between sound, place and our sense of belonging.

The etymology of the German word for "belong" has a connection to the word "listen". Gehören is translated as "to belong", while the root of the word hören, means "to listen".

In his book Acoustic Communication Barry Truax describes the concept of acoustic community, in which sound acts positively creating a unifying relationship with the environment and how sounds act as sound signals and sonic cues while collaborate to define an area spatially, temporally, socially, and culturally.

The objective of the project was to create a map of sound coordinates, based on the identification, registration and cartography of the “sound points” - trees and urban structures - where the song of the birds is concentrated. The points begin to activate towards the end of winter with the first trills reaching their sonic fullness during the spring and continuing during the summer. Throughout each day, wonderful choirs take place at different times. Then they decline during the fall and winter, although their music never quite quiets down.

The large and foldable map, like the typical tourist map, will also be a guide to the species of birds that inhabit the neighborhood and the trees that give them shelter and will be freely distributed among residents and visitors. The project will include sign posts at each location bearing the notice: “Listen. Here, birds sing".  The recordings are published online as a sound heritage archive of the neighborhood.

40% of the more than 11,000 species of birds that inhabit the planet are in population decline and one in eight is in a threatened situation according to a 2018 BirdLife International report, the main reason being the continuous destruction of their habitats. With the continuous decline of species, the world becomes increasingly silent.

In his essay Five Practices for Listening to the Language of Birds, biologist David G. Haskell recounts how bird voices produce a new dimension of sensory experience. By opening our minds to the language of species, we experience a connection and meaning far beyond anything else offered by electronic simulations. Why so deep? Because attending to the languages of other species is our heritage, bequeathed by a line of ancestors that goes back hundreds of millions of years. The song of the birds reveals the passage of the seasons, the different hours of the day and its texture shapes the soundscape of the neighborhood.

At the end of the sixties a group of researchers that under the name of World Soundscape Project emerged at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver from the hand of Murray Schafer and Barry Truax, presented the proposal to "document and archive soundscapes, describe and analyze them , and promote an increase in public awareness through listening and critical thinking. " Since then, many institutions, projects and artists have continued and enriched this proposal.

Unlike the sound map projects that currently exist online, the Maps for Listening project tries to directly intervene in a specific territory by signaling its sound points and proposing a map to its inhabitants. A map that is both a means for the re-knowledge of the neighborhood as a weave of diverse species, textures, lights, aromas and sounds and an invitation to walk, explore and experience the place while new sensory and affective relationships are created.


copyright: liliana gelman