The culture of major cities in Western developed nations has a long-standing dominantly visual bias. While ‘design’ is expected in the visual arena of architecture and urban planning, it is not a common feature of our soundscape. The urban soundscape is generally a by-product of other human activities and so may be alienating us from our environment. Our relationship to the environment has become dysfunctional.
Unlike the visual domain, auditory experience is fundamentally haptic and brings us into close contact with our environment. We ‘feel’ our environment and our place in it through hearing. Research in the cognitive neurosciences shows that the environment is a continuing influence on the development of our brains throughout our lives. By designing our soundscape and engaging in attentive listening we may enable ourselves to develop a healthy relationship with our environment: one that is more conducive to making genuine, considered decisions about environmental policies and that may motivate us to make the personal and economic adjustments necessary to successful implementation of such policies.
Through sonographic analyses of both natural and urban soundscapes, the alienating nature of the urban soundscape is demonstrated. Features of natural soundscapes will be examined in relation to their applicability to urban sound design of public spaces.
|Keywords:||Acoustic Ecology, Auditory Experience, Listening, Soundscape, Environment|
Graduate Student, Liberal Studies, Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, BC, Canada
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