Podcast: Aural Architecture, presented to Belmont library by Barry Blesser

Click play to listen to the podcast “Aural Architecture” presented to Belmont library by Barry Blesser in January 2007. 


Key insights from the podcast:

  •  Barry Blesser is the godfather of digital audio.  
  •  We should rethink our assumptions how we experience the physical, social and aural world in our visual dominant culture. 
  • What is sound? What function does sound serve in your life? What does it mean to experience sound? 
  • The reason you get to aural architecture with sound is because you have to be at some place. And at the place you are, is going to change the sound. The place you are in is going to have a influence on the sound experience. 
  • The only time we really remember a sound experience is when we are really irritated that you could not notice it.
  • Sound is a very important part of our existence but we don’t really know what the real experience of sound is. 
  • Sound is more important for the human than just for speech and listening to music. Sound is a part of a social and emotional connection, and an awareness of dynamic events. 
  • We connect everything around us via our ears. Nature says sound is so important that we have not evolutionary been given the freedom to shut it down as it keeps us 24// aware of our surroundings, good and bad signals. 
  • Sound goes much deeper in our neocortex than our visual system. 
  • What happens with sound in a space? You can not have sound without a space. 
  • How do we describe sound and its experience in words? We can not describe it, as the vocabulary is borrowed words from the visual system. Barry Blesser says humans are not weird to describe what we are experiencing. As we can not put it into words and analysis it, then it can’t we worth dealing with. You can’t pass on our show an aural experience. You can’t experience it unless you are in it. All of this makes architextures show no interest in aural architecture.  
  •  Sound is time, but it moves much more slowly than light. The speed of sound through air is about 340 meters per second. It’s faster through water and it’s even faster through steel. Light will travel through a vacuum at 300 million meters per second.
  • We forget to respond to the question, what is the social space we want to achieve when building a space? Barry says you build after what the people want, depending on what is going to happen in the space. There is no size fits all space. Going back in history almost every major space was a social accident. At no point in the history has there been an aural architect that said “you know, this is what the people want, and I let me figure out how to go about it to give it to them”.
  • Wearing headphones makes us functionally deaf to the environment we exist in. The young using ipods are going into a generation of deafness not far away from the world war two generation. We will create a social burden of a large population that will be emotionally and mentally stressed out because they are aurally disconnected from their environment, and nobody cares.