The Empty Space : Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology / World Listening Project

Christopher Preissing, Curator

the empty space, destitute of activity,
once inhabited, teeming with life, leaving traces
in the earth, on their walls, in the air
abandoned or never inhabited
a sonic odor, once removed
remains etched in the subconscious

Download Full Album:

we017 - Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology / World Listening Project - The Empty Space (94.8 MB)

Download Tracks:

Track 01 - Christopher Preissing - Past Is Present (7.25MB)
Recording equipment: Zoom H2
After traveling 5,000 miles over 18 hours, meeting new friends and colleagues, driving through torrential rain and wading through waist-deep water with my host, I lay exhausted, in and out of sleep, on a small bed in a tiny room in Paranapiacaba, a 19th century workers village between São Paulo and Brazil's Atlantic coast. In the interval between dusk and dawn, the village is quiet, the streets empty, the past is present.

Track 02 - Chad Clark - 223 West Jackson (12.1MB)
Recording equipment: 2 DPA 4060s, SD MP2, Sony D-50
Unaccompanied and unprocessed field recording extracted from the basement at 223 W. Jackson, Chicago, Illinois. 

Track 03 - Eric Leonardson - Water El Train (4.53MB)
Recording equipment: Rode NT4, Sony PCM-M10
"L" is the shortened term for Chicago's elevated public rail transit system. The elevated track runs outside my space and when it is empty this is what it sounds like. The water comes from our old leaky faucets. I hope the sound of my own footsteps can be imagined not as your own, in this invisible sound space.

Track 04 - Anton Mobin - Blockhaus de l’Atlantique (15MB)
Recording equipment: Nagra Ares M2, stereo microphone and contact microphones
All field recordings were captured in two blockhaus on the coast of the Atlantic Ocean on the peninsula of Le Croisic, in Bretagne, France (summer 2010). These historical monuments date from the Second World War and have been abandoned since 1945. Le Croisic was a strategic port during the war. Now, in Le Croisic, we can see a group of four blockhaus where these sounds were recorded. Only two are abandoned, the other two rehabilitated into a house or garage by the population. Inside, the feeling is totally impressive; a loud and heavy atmosphere with a lot of waste of squat (food, glasses, paper, plastic bags...), rusty metal, and graffiti on the walls. No doors, no furniture. Only a block of reinforced concrete and vegetation which tries to get the upper hand over the monument.

Track 05 - Christopher Preissing - On the Rocks (9.86MB)
Recording equipment: Zoom H2
Sitting in the dark on the flat rocks that edge Lake Superior's shoreline, surrounded by the inky blackness of that great body of water, reflected into the vast, star-washed night sky, I can't see the fingers on my hand, yet the insignificance of human time and space is clearly visible.

Track 06 - kikiilimikilii - Caphtoires (9.51MB)
Caphtoires is a piece composed with a recording of an empty tank in the vicinity of the small village of Amanalco de Becerra (Mexico).

Track 07 - Christopher Preissing - Still Point (6.5MB)
Recording equipment: Zoom H2
There is a still point in the space between the cars hurtling across the iron rails in the dark of night. Departures and arrivals aside, for me there is a sense of emptiness, of loneliness, inherent in traveling long distances by oneself. The enormity of the universe and the lacunae of time and space, amplifies the silence within.

Track 08 - Peter Memmer - Silence Has a Body Too (5.85MB)
I have been living away from home for 14 years now.
As i come back i am trying to make a link between what i remember places used to sound like and how they are making themselves heard now.
Almost always, they don't match up.
This silence was recorded in my parents kitchen, one night late in September 2009.
I was looking for traces of my mum's activities during the day: cooking, listening to radio, washing dishes, baking amazing cakes, etc. But what i encountered was a strange sounding beast, a vivid organism with it's bubbling bowls, high pitched blood flow and a quickened ticking as its heartbeat. It's like the disappearing of the days activities were giving place to a subconscious, a slightly frightening world of drones and other deeply strange sonic events.
Suddenly, amidst that familiar place, i didn't feel at home that much any more.

Track 09 - Greg O'Drobinak - Purdue, Third Floor, Machine Room (14.7MB)
Recording equipment: Geosource MD-100 geophone
The sound was recorded with a geophone placed on a pneumatic control pipe near a steam valve. The amount of air pressure in the pipe provided the controlling force to open and close the valve to vary the amount of steam used to heat a small building on the campus of Purdue University. Since everything was coupled mechanically, you hear the waxing and waning of the steam flowing through the valve as the air pressure increases and decreases in the control tubing. The building was truly a large shiny, empty space at that late hour at night when this recording was made. The ebb and flow of the air and steam seemed to me to be like the slow, sleepy breath of a giant resting automaton.

Track 10 - Eric Leonardson - Sink Clocks (3.5MB)
Recording equipment: Sony PCM-M10
Caught at a quiet moment, this recording may not be the most robust representation of an empty space. It is not abandoned or uninhabited. Normally it is full of activity. The sound of this space is ear-catching when the hustle and bustle of the urban space leaves a quiet time, one that announces itself unexpectedly and the delicate sound of dripping can be perceived as the loudest sound. In these lulls the acoustic horizon extends for a significant distance beyond the walls of our empty space.

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Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology / World Listening Project - The Empty Space