UBC Graduate Research

A Listener's Guide to Noise in the Anthropocenic City Penner, Nicholas


Noise often brings to mind a loud or disturbing sound. When defined as “unwanted sound”, we find that noise is not inherently negative but speaks to a negative reaction to something in one’s environment. Noise is most audible at the scale of the Anthropocenic city; an urban world involving ubiquitous interconnections between human and natural forces. Since the Romantic era, aesthetics has ideologically separated humans from nature, framing the human as a “nuisance” and nature as “ideal”. Henceforth, urban soundscapes have been seen as nuisances deserving of noise control, including noise by-laws, architectural acoustics, and personal headphones. By using sonic methods of active listening, field recording and sound art, this project will take the listener on a virtual soundwalk through space and time along Vancouver’s Seawall. The soundwalk will focus on noise that signifies aesthetic relationships humans have with built and natural environments. As life in the Anthropocenic city challenges us to reimagine our connection to the natural world, this project will amplify noise to demonstrate how aesthetic relationships with environments are revealed through active listening.

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