Sound of a factory / factory of sounds

Abstract : During the first visit to a former factory, the overriding experience is one of silence. The Vairet-Baudot ceramics workshops in the French county of Ciry-le-Noble closed in 1967. Left intact with all the machinery in place, these buildings have benefitted from the protection of the Creusot Ecomuseum. During the summer of 2004, this "sonic oxymoron" provided the basis of an acoustic experiment. An octaphonic sound-system allowed us to create a sonic image of considerable depth for the visitor moving in the space. As we were developing this project, we attempted to arrive at a better understanding of the interest or value that the "sounding" of an historical space, deprived of its former sonic ambiance, might represent. I would classify the results of this research / action based according to 3 preoccupations which guided this sonic experiment : 1) What position to adopt with respect to the project? Two choices might seem obvious. The first would be to "recreate" the sound of the place, replaying the sounds of another time, the acoustic synchronies of the now still machines; the second would be to "enliven" the space with an artistic creation. We finally adopted a third approach which was simply one of "sounding the spaces". Attentive listening allowed us to define effective ways of producing sonic qualities which evoked the transformation of raw clay into brick and thus something of the "memory" of the place. 2) The visitors' experiences were analyzed according to four categories: "listening in movement", "dissected listening", "visual listening" and "embodied listening". 3) Might the business of putting sound to this silent - though not mute ! - heritage space not be something like putting sound to images in cinema? Can one create "soundtracks" for certain spaces we inhabit? Certain tools used in cinema proved to be useful in describing the relation between sound and the factory space.
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Nicolas Tixier, Karine Houdemont. Sound of a factory / factory of sounds. Twelth International Congress on Sound and Vibration, 11-14 July 2005, Lisbon, Jul 2005, Lisbonne, Portugal. 8 p. ⟨halshs-00380140⟩

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