Aural Architecture LogoNON:op Open Opera Works

NON:op Open Opera Works and the Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology team up with the Chicago Architecture Center to present Aural Architecture: Hearing is the Other Half of How We Know an audio engagement program for Open House Chicago.

Much of the talk about architecture focuses on its visual aspect. However, this limits the experience to its static aspects. To fully experience and enjoy the dynamic features of our surroundings, and to amplify the individuals’ subjective experience and engagement with the architecture, we can train our ears to hear how architects are designing the sounds of our environment. Hearing is the Other Half of How We Know invites everyone to engage with another aspect of an architectural space to feel and enjoy its full meaning and value.

Aural Architecture interventions will be site-specific—relevant to a site’s architecture, history, purpose and acoustic properties. Events will be easy to set up, open-ended, non-obtrusive, and last 10-15 minutes over a period of 2-3 hours. Active participation will have more benefits for those who choose to engage, however audiences will be invited not required to participate.

• • •

2020 Aural Neighborhoods: A Comparative Listening Event

The economic disparities resulting from systemic racism between different Chicago neighborhoods has been clearly identified and put on display by community activist and photographer Tonika Johnson and her Folded Map project. From the perspective of another sense—sound and acoustics—are these inequalities also apparent? For example, is the soundscape different in Lincoln Park vs Englewood; Austin vs the Gold Coast? How is it different and why? How does economic investment or economic de-investment change the sound of a neighborhood?

In addition, with social distancing and stay-at-home orders brought about by the pandemic, is the sound of your neighborhood different than it was a year ago? Today, if we compare the sound of a particular location in a particular neighborhood to what it was a year ago, is it different? How and why? NON:op Open Opera Works and TBD team up to examine these questions over the two domains of location and time and location. Has the sound of neighborhoods changed over time, and do different neighborhoods sound different?

Aural Neighborhoods will be a variation on our previous years’ engagement Aural Architecture activities. Rather than investigating the sound inside buildings, we plan to conduct audio engagement in different Chicago neighborhoods. Using Johnson’s Folded Map project as a model, Aural Neighborhoods will provide self-guided sound trails, one each in south and north side Chicago neighborhoods. The two soundwalks will be included as part of the Open House Chicago VaMonde app, which will indicate each trail, and specific points at which to listen to and find out more about unique sound environments. Corresponding locations in the “folded” route will be available for listing on the app. Additionally, the sound of both routes will be recorded and available online on the NON:onLINE platform on the NON:op website. NON:op will also provide a blog and the above prompts to which you may respond with your thoughts. Finally, should you wish to record audio, video, or images of your personal soundwalk experience—on either trail—you may contact us for a link to upload your audio.

• • •

2019 Aural Architecture

In 2019 Aural Architecture events took place at the Elks National Memorial on Saturday and Sunday, October 19 and 20 led by MSAE’s Eric Leonardson and NON:op’s Christophe Preissing. Blood Lines: remembering the 1919 Chicago race riot, NON:op’s sound installation, was on display at Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park through the weekend, with a live performative reading on Saturday at 1pm. Community members read the name, race, age, and time, location and manner death of each person in sequence and in time with the sounding of the long wires.

• • •

In 2018 Aural Architecture events took place at Augustana Lutheran Church of Hyde Park.

Aural Neighborhoods 2020