Sound and space. ANT approach to building concert hall acoustics.
Aino Alatalo (University of Tampere)
Paper short abstract:
In this paper the ANT approach is applied and tested in a study tracing the assemblage of the concert hall acoustics of Helsinki Music Centre completed in 2011. The study follows the footsteps of classical STS case studies that have traced gathering and disentanglement of technological projects.
Paper long abstract:
In this paper the ANT approach is applied and tested in a case study tracing the assemblage of the acoustics of Helsinki Music Centre completed in 2011. Incorporated in the architectural shape and materials of the concert hall, acoustics is defined as a technology that mediates music to the audience and orchestra. It is truly a hybrid actor: in Helsinki the pursuit of "best possible" sound collected together several ideals - artistic, physical, visual and social - that combined in the architectural design of the concert hall were to create the perfect acoustical experience. Through the possibilities opened by ANT's inclusion of non-human actors as part of the collective the objective of the study is to access sound as a social phenomenon. Analysis is conducted by locating the displacements where acoustics joined new bundles of relations and became more articulated until finally reaching its' (possibly) final form in the vineyard-shaped concert hall. The study follows the footsteps of classical STS case studies that have traced gathering and disentanglement of technological projects (e.g. Callon 1986; Latour 1996; Gieryn 2002). As any mediation of art, acoustics, although a field of physics, has a subjective dimension: it mediates different impressions to different people. Material production of subjective experiences appears difficult to grasp relying solely on ANT repertoire. Different acoustical features can be conceived as matters of taste and therefore even expert opinions of the quality of acoustics differ. Hence, the notion of good acoustics involves an element of power: who were able to stabilize their idea of good acoustics and how?
Doing theory by other means: how does architectural production challenge STS and ANT