SIAS project: Sound Art in Colombia

[Guest Blog post by Jorge Mario Díaz Matajira, director of the SIAS project]

SIAS stands for “Information System about Sound Art in Colombia” (from the spanish “Sistema de Información sobre el Arte Sonoro en Colombia”). SIAS (http://uan.sainethost.com/)  is a project that studies sound art and its cultural development in Colombia. This project was born as a research of the Master’s program in Sound Art (MAS) of the Faculty of Arts of the Universidad Antonio Nariño (UAN), based in Bogotá, and due to internal calls from the Institution and its Vice President Department for Science, Technology and Innovation (VCTI). An important collaborator of this project has been the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana (PUJ), in particular the Industrial Design program. SIAS uses Freesound to host and share some of the sounds recorded within the project.

In 2016, a first stage of research was carried out which consisted in characterizing the state of the art of the artistic productions made in Colombia since the 1990s classified as Sound Art. During this process, we collected detailed information about more than 1000 works related to sound, and made 32 interviews to different sound artists who are present in the most relevant artistic circuits of the country, identifying the multiple conceptions of sound art and its relationship with experimental music.

Because the project gathered enough information, we decided to continue with a second stage to create an open information system accessible to the public interested in the field of study. Thus, we established a plan to design, develop and implement a prototype information system about Sound Art in Colombia, as an academic and technological tool for information management. This stage was expanded to the following lines of work: 

  • first, a large database with information about works and artists was created, including information about their circulation, creation, research and education; 
  • second, the creation of a catalog (still in development), which visualizes and disseminates the works of sound art, from a component of joint creation with the artists; 
  • third, the creation of an interactive Colombian sound map allowing to look at  the city as an object of study based on listening. This last line of work has been taking advantage of the Freesound platform for the classification, organization and analysis of the soundscape.

Our study of the soundscape has been developing its own methodology through immersion in the city, listening, recording, classifying and analyzing sounds. We use the term sound object (from a Schaefferian perspective) to designate audio recordings that do not exceed 10 seconds, and the term soundscape to designate recordings and sound routes that exceed 10 seconds. We developed an instrument to collect data that allows the basic analysis and classification of each object and soundscape. It was structured based on listening as a mode of knowledge, taking as a reference the types of listening defined by Pierre Schaeffer and Michel Chion: reduced, causal and semantic listening.

We have taken advantage of the visualization of the sound maps from the platform My Maps where we establish routes and categories that classify the sound objects according to the perspective of the landscape recorders. In this way, the categories can vary between animals, machines, voices, background music, vehicles, etc. The following figure shows an example of our soundscape work shown in a sound map:

Figure 1: General view of the sound map

The purple lines represent the recorded sound routes with a duration greater than 10 seconds (what we denominate soundscapes). Along these routes, you can see icons of different colors, which represent sound objects. On the left side, there is the name of the map with its description: in this case, the city of Bucaramanga, Colombia; below is a list with the exact names of each of the colored icons (sound objects) and the respective categories that classify the sounds on the map.

Figure 2: View over icons or routes

In this other figure, it is shown that when clicking on each of the colored icons or the routes, a popup appears and shows the name of the sound and the Freesound URL so that the sound record can be listened to (with all the features that the Freesound provides). Here are some maps from Palomino, Bogotá, Ipiales and Pasto that you can check.

The SIAS project, from its soundscape line of work, has registered more than 30 maps of different cities in Colombia: Bogotá, Bucaramanga, Pasto, Palomino, Palmira and Ipiales. The sounds from these maps are uploaded as packs in Freesound, and include a  approximately 1273 sounds. All sounds are uploaded under the proyectosonidosias user account. Here you can find the sound packs organized by city.

It is worth mentioning that the soundscape line of research also works from three fronts: the first, takes recordings of city-based sound environments as a study object. Second, it considers a heritage perspective which works on the hypothesis that there are sounds that could be valued by the community, both in the field of sound art and cultural heritage. Thus, not only places cataloged as national cultural heritage are valued, but other places not cataloged as such but that its context has that valuation potential given by communities that recognize it. The last sub-line of work consists in the recording of objects that we call sound artifacts, which highlights the sound artifact as sound matter within usability contexts, from an industrial design perspective. The recordings from this line of work are also hosted in Freesound, in the pack Objeto Sonoro. For this pack, we have started with the bicycle sounds as an initial case of study.

Currently, the SIAS project is developing its own platform as an integrated information system that allows open consultation on sound art in Colombia to all those people interested in sound. Finally, I want to thank the Freesound platform, which has allowed us to work openly with all our sound records and has been the repository hosting all our soundscape audios, facilitating open listening for all our researchers and students who have been interested in the project.



About Jorge Mario Díaz Matajira:

Jorge Mario Díaz Matajira is a University professor and researcher in the areas of education, humanities and arts. Master and specialist in university teaching, and, Professional Musician. Jorge Mario Díaz Matajira is the coordinator and curator of the Master in Sound Art at the Universidad Antonio Nariño in Bogotá, Colombia.


About the SIAS team:

General direction and state of the art: Jorge Mario Díaz Matajira (UAN)

Development:
– Alexander Orejuela Susa (UAN)
– Elio Higinio Cables Pérez (UAN)

Soundscape:
– Expert advisor: Roberto Cuervo Pulido Ph.D., researcher at the Pontificia  Universidad Javeriana (PUJ).
– offices outside bogota: Sandra Cecilia Mesa García and Juan Carlos Floyd Llanos (UAN)
– Sound Object Sub-line: Juan Fernando Parra Castro (UAN)
– Heritage Sub-line: Liliana Fracasso and Bernardo Muñoz (UAN)

Catalogue:
– David Andrés Carrascal Gómez (UAN)
– Rodrigo Iván Díaz Sánchez (UAN)

Bibliography, Master’s Degree and News: Jorge Mario Díaz Matajira
Contact us at direccion.arte.sonoro@uan.edu.co


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