Tuned City: Sonic Surveys of Tallinn

Hear Tallinn with new ears! Buildings and architecture are usually described in visual terms. But it is often our sense of hearing which assists us in experiencing and navigating through the spaces of urban cities. There is no sound without space and no space without a sound. In every day life we are surrounded by the sounds of diverse nature and various origins. Language, sounds of nature and civilisation – sound as a carrier of information or as a factor of disturbance permanently encircles our consciousness.

During the month of May 2010, and over the summer of 2011, Tuned City Tallinn will undertake an acoustic exploration of Tallinn. The goal will be to identify and explore the sonic landmarks of the city which define its identity, shape its communication and transform the perceptions of its visitors and inhabitants. A fascinating cross-section of international artists, performers, scientists and thinkers will be brought together to present their ideas about sound and space. In addition, the public will be invited to participate directly through a series of workshops and sound walks and experience diverse site specific installations, performances and demonstrations. Tuned City Tallinn builds on ideas developed during the first ever event of its kind, held in Berlin during the summer of 2008.

Events may 2010

Tuned City Tallinn starts off with two workshop projects in the week 18.-22. may 2010, a series of artistic/scientific research projects in the following week and a first public project presentation on may 29th.

Program details:

week 17-22 may

workshop I
Sonic Surveys of Tallinn

exploring, location hunting, mapping and field recording of urban soundscapes
May 18-22, 2010

workshop led by: John Grzinich, Derek Holzer, Patrick McGinley
registration: jg[ät]maaheli.ee

This interdisciplinary workshop (of artists, architects, urban planners, social geographers) concentrates on exploring working methods for mapping and documenting urban spaces and architectural structures of the city of Tallinn. The methods used will combine research and practical skills in surveying and recording the “sonic geographies” found throughout the city. As Tallinn has radically different zones, both architecturally and socially  our research aims to reflect expose and reflect the variety of soundscapes to be found there.

This would include the practical elements of an overall “field recording” and “listening” workshop with an introduction to sound, soundscape and field recording techniques. The structure of the workshop divides the overall group of participants into several small scouting teams (3 groups of 4 or 5 people) that make excursions to different districts of the city. A range of locations could include the Soviet ‘plattenbau’ districts like Lasnamäe and Õismäe, the park areas of Kadriorg and Nõmme and the seaside districts of Pirita and Kopli (or whatever else can be introduced) for example.

Mapping the possible overlays of sonic regions or even specific sounds will help define potential “sonic landmarks”, as one of the main themes for the Tuned City conference to be held in July of 2011. Afterward we can pool the coordinates and recordings into a “map” or Survey of Acoustic Geography of Tallinn.

Workshop II
Form and Sound
with students of the EKA, the Conservatory and students from Kuvataiteakatemia Helsinki and KUNO
May 18-22, 2010

workshop led by: Lukas Kühne

The idea is to carry out a multidisciplinary laboratory building bridges amongst the different arts and genders. The proposal of this idea is interactive, an adventure that has to do with phenomena of natural laws and the ultimate technology. Sound does not exist without material support: it requires sources in space in order to have some kind of form and it needs ears in order to be heard. Sound depends on the material and the form of sound sources. This workshop explores the relationship between the form that creates sound and the sounds that create form.

This workshop project is meant to create artistic and scientific explorations of the unique acoustic situation of the old waterplane hangar and to find ways to preserve lively and illustrative
documentations of an outstanding spatial experience. The hangar will be changed  into a maritim museum, this development process causes a certain responsibility for the monument. A scientific analysis of the given frequencies and wavelength, the characteristics of the reverberation and diffusion in the space of the 3 domes and an investigation of the direct and related phenomena should provide a profound explanation. In close collaboration an artistic reflection should interpret, force – translate and visualize this unique sonotop.

(The artistic reflection could be build around the topic of the echo, starting with the cultural history, the mythological background – the story about the nymph ‘echo’ and ‘narcissus’ as an explanation model of the dispartment of the acoustic and the visual world. Going over to a natural scientific and musically artistic exploration with the above mentioned research project, guided tours through the architecture and artistic performances. And ending with a metaphorical and poetic view on the topic of reflection. (as reaction on causation, repetition, return of history, echos from beyond …)


In the week 24-28 of may the artists Raviv Ganchrow (NL), Thomas Ankersmit (D) and Anthony Hall (UK) will explore the old hydroplane hangar.


May 29 2010
seaplane hangar, Lennusadama port, (Küti Street) Tallinn
>>> see map

The first public event introducing the “sonic landmarks tallinn” project in 2011 will take place at and around the seaplane hangar as it serves as a great example for the deep relation of architecture and sound and would illustrate in a nice way the main idea of tuned city – to make the acoustic dimension of space and architecture perceptible.

One lasting impression from the Berlin event was of the specific acoustic qualities which each of the spaces used for the conference and performances possessed – whether it was a room designed from the acoustic perspective (such as the anechoic chamber at the Technical University or the giant radio concert hall at the Nalepastrasse), an improvised situation (such as the disused repair hall of the Wriezener Bahnhof) or a temporary public situation (such as on Alexanderplatz). These acoustic qualities provided each site which a specific identity which defined that location in space, assisted or inhibited communication and changed one‘s awareness of their surroundings and illustrated in a great way the debated topics very plastically.

In the same way as tuned city explores the different topics in direct relation to the actual spaces this pre-event in the hangar will give a taste of how the Tallinn event in 2011 will shape. In a mixture of theory, artistic presentation and direct experience we will present the results of the artistic/scientific research and documentation project as well as the results of the workshops to the audience. Some lectures will introduce the concepts of aural architecture and acoustic awareness.


start 4pm

Opening and welcome – Mikko Fritze, Director of Tallinn 2011, European Cultural Capital

Introduction to the Estonian Maritime Museum project – Ott Sarapuu (EE) (enquired)
History of the seaplane hangar, future plans and architectural vision.

Sonic Landmarks – tunedcity in Tallinn 2011 – Tunedcity research group (int)
A preview of  the program for Tallinn 2011 introducing the general idea behind tunedcity, the research network, the artist and projects planed for the european capital project Sonic Landmarks.

Sonic garden in the urban sphere – Valeria Merlini (I)
Lecture on acoustics aspects of landscape architecture

presentations by artist involved in the planing for 2011:

Raviv Ganchrow (US/IL/NL)
Crescents and Bent on Listening

Thomas Ankersmith (NL/D)
presentation and talk

Antony Hall (UK)

presentation of the workshop results:

Sonic Surveys of Tallinn
Workshop with MoKS (EE) – location hunting, mapping and field recording of urban soundscapes
– short performances and soundwalks

Form and Sound
Workshop by Lukas Kühne (D) together with The Estonian academy of arts EKA, The Finnish Academy of Fine Arts in Helsinki and KUNO
– performances, demonstarations, soundwalks

Tuned City is part of the official program of the European Cultural Capital Tallinn 2011 and is co-produced with MoKs – center for art and social practice and is supported by the Tallinn 2011 Foundation, Estonian Cultural Endowment, Hasartmängumaksu Nõukogu, Eesti Vabariigi Kultuuriministeerium. In cooperation with The Estonian Academy of Arts, Kunshogskoleutdanninger i Norden KUNO and The Estonian Maritime Museeum.

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