Just got back from Koli, Finland where I attended the Soundscapes 2010 conference. The Finnish organizers should be proud of this carefully planned and wonderfully produced gathering dedicated to the discussion of “Ideologies and Ethics in the Uses and Abuses of Sound”. An event marked by a growing interdisciplinarity as Barry Truax noticed.
In my view the Koli conference marks a new era in soundscape studies. Hildergard Westerkamp and others have pointed out to the importance of listening and to the central role that the perceptual subject has played in soundscape studies since its very inception.
Environmental, social and media studies have largely ignored the approach that soundscape studies pioneered. Listening is a part of feeling. Feelings is what is largely in need in these days of incertitude and of the unaccounted activity of the “markets”...
A promising future thus stays ahead of us, not only because soundscape studies have an edge that can and will undoubtedly be applied to other areas of research and scholarship, but also because, as further development of this model becomes necessary, new work will inevitably await us. Soundscape studies are heading towards the future.
The Koli conference also served another highly important and meaningful purpose. I don’t know exactly how many members the World Forum of Acoustic Ecology has. But I suspect that each one has particular reasons to belong to this unique group. In this wonderful diversity however there is one key figure —also unique and consensual— that most probably drove us all into this area, that still bonds us and symbolizes the origins and strength of this movement: R. Murray Schafer.
Leading soundscape studies into the future is the best homage to him and to his vision.
(the photo is by architect, soundscaper and friend Marc Crunelle to whom I thank.)