Barbara Grüning

Sounds out of place. An acoustic cartography of Bologna's public spaces

  • Abstract

Informations and abstract

Keywords: public space, noise, acoustic community, exclusion dynamic, symbolic boundary

The paper investigates how sound influences the constitution and understanding of an urban space, by looking at the space category from a threefold perspective: the material organization of a place (the physical space); the social relationships objectified and inscribed in the physical space (the socio-structural space) and the relational structures created by interacting and positioning oneself in the physical space (the situated social space). On the basis of these three spatial dimensions I first analyze how sound spaces are constructed in some public venues of Bologna, by evaluating their acoustic design, the music genders and activities institutionalized here, and the sound practices of social actors who (inter)act here, in order to construct a typology of them. In the second part I focus on the production of noise in open public spaces, considering how noise emerges in the liminal zones between the physical, the social and the symbolic boundaries of an urban sound space, which also marks different kinds of acoustic communities. Thus, I pay attention to two problematic areas of the inner city of Bologna and observe how here noise generates social conflicts, social controls and inclusion/exclusion dynamics so as to contribute to the material and social reconfiguration of urban spaces and to their symbolic re-signification.

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