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Archive for December, 2017

Recently I led an interdisciplinary research team investigating the potential of ‘noise transformation’ as a soundscape design method for improving the life of those living along motorways. The research was funded by the toll-way company, Transurban. Our team worked directly with their sustainability department, who are responsible for funding art and design programs, innovative research ideas and sustainable energy projects.

Some peers, in private correspondence, have raised their concerns about the instrumentalisation of art that such projects might represent. I find this to be a limited view, inso far as it contains art within a narrow perception of having to be obtuse, radical or provocative. My attitude is that art exists with our without artists, and the existence of manifested art, and as such its potential applications and realisations are unlimited. Art cannot be contained or controlled – not for long anyway – and as such we shouldn’t be afraid to apply art in various scenarios.

In this project, artistic processes are applied as a means to come up with real world solutions. In this case, if people are forced to live with motorway noise can we apply modern technologies to reduce the annoyance and anxiety created by these noisy soundscapes to improve quality of life? It builds on a long history of composers interested in urban sounds and composition, including Russolo, Varese, Cage, Westerkamp and Oliverios.

The full report can be accessed here: https://www.transurban.com/sustainability/innovation-grants/rmit-motorway-noise-project

An article I wrote on the potential of turning traffic noise into music can be accessed here: https://blog.transurban.com/news/the-sound-of-music.

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