Lab for Sonic Speculation

An orchestra of croaking frogs, a soothing voice on the radio, or the ring of the school bell – very memorable sounds, that all share the power to transport an active listener into another world. During the By Design or By Disaster conference in the Venosta Valley, workshop participants collectively imagined socio-ecological metamorphoses and brought them to life through dynamic audio soundscapes.

The workshop introduced participants to an audio toolset to establish imaginative worlds by co-creating audible augmented reality experiences. Using situated field recordings and personal stories to animate their ideas about speculative futures, the participants created geo-located audio collages. They were shared with a wider audience in the form of two audio walks, sparking discussions and inspiring collective action.

To demonstrate the power of audio in stirring the collective imagination, the Lab for Sonic Speculation partnered with Gabriela Miteva from Vinschgau blüht auf to create a speculative soundscape for the Venosta Valley, exploring alternative scenarios to the apple monocultures that dominate the area. Human and non-human actors, including many pollinators, birds but also apple harvesting machinery spoke on the contrast between the diverse sound-experience of species-rich meadows and industrial apple plantations.

After experiencing this walk, the workshop participants set out to collect and record sounds for their own speculative futures, grouping around different audio-related lenses, such as a radio, a bicycle bell, or a frog. The co-created walk with additions from the whole group was then made accessible to all conference visitors.

Access the audio walks here and here!

[In collaboration with Rebekka Jochem, held at the conference By Design or By Disaster by the Master of Eco-Social Design of the University of Bolzano 28.03-01.04.23]