Every city has a chord resonating through it, below our range of hearing. It is the combination of the city’s acoustic signature and the activities taking place within it — life reverberating through architecture. This installation is an exploration of those chords, an attempt to extract the resonances, the pitches that remain, but are usually drowned out by overall levels of noise and activity. Sounds never completely dissipate, merely sinking below our range of hearing, and merging with the hum of the city. Spectral City listens to its location, using techniques of spectral extraction and accumulation to capture and suspend the most prominent pitches. By slowing down time to reveal space, this piece reveals the deep structures of sound which permeate us, the unique harmony underlying every location.
In this realization, environmental sounds are collected from six stories above a stretch of West Fourth Street, where the installation is located. Video is also streamed from the same location. The top row of monitors displays the pixels of the video image not in physical space, but in colorspace — as the audio slows down time to reveal the sonic characteristics of space, the video reorganizes space to illuminate colors and their shifting relationships throughout the course of the day.
This piece is a video extension of a 2007 audio-only work based on the same principles, premiered by ZKM in Völkingen, May 2007. Further realization at Dis-Locate festival, Yokohama, 2008, and The Global Composition festival, Dieburg, 2014.