Mutantextures: World Building through Soundscapes

24 October 2020 (Sat), 10AM - 1PM
At Blackbox and Dressing Rooms 1- 5
“Mutantextures: World Building through Soundscapes” a workshop by Bani Haykal

Workshop Synopsis
Mutantextures is a workshop on creating / designing soundscapes through a combination of critical theory and practice. The workshop’s primary focus is to introduce students to several introductory concepts and tools in order to develop and create sonic environments for various usages such as theatre, film and games.

Workshop Background
The term ‘mutantextures’ comes from British-Ghanian theorist / writer Kodwo Eshun from his book More Brilliant Than a Thousand Suns, a portmanteau gesturing to the conception of new sounds through the use of effects such as distortions, flanger and wah-wah pedals etc. ‘Mutantextures’ revolve around such tools as “acoustic prosthetics”, where its combination offers new sonic horizons and dimensions to what a sound originally represents.
For this workshop, students will be introduced to a variety of materials which revolves around the premise of developing new sonic environments by enmeshing captured / recorded audio (field recordings, foley, musical instruments etc) with various effects found in any given digital audio workstation (DAW).
Students will cover an introduction of Bernie Krause’s Soundscape Ecology as a means of understanding the ways by which sonic environments are immersive spaces across species. Through this framework, we’ll examine how various built environments are designed, the functions they serve and their effects.

Workshop Methods + Tools
For this workshop, students will engage with a variety of material, from theoretical frames relating to soundscape ecology to more practical tools such as recording / mixing. At the end of the workshop, students will give a presentation of their project revolving around a speculative environment in the future. Students will work in groups of 3 to build their respective projects collectively. Each group is required to work in their own space / studio / room, which isolates their project away from another group’s activity. This is to ensure there are no sound leakages from one group to another.

Workshop Rundown
1. Session A
– Listening Party (15 minutes)
> we will begin each class by listening to an audio material which we will later engage with through a discussion on what we heard and speculate on its features / share impressions of the material.
– Introduction / talk about the workshop (45 minutes)
> this talk will be cover the conceptual aspect of the workshop, taking off from Eshun’s frame of “mutantextures” to Krause’s “soundscape ecology”.
– Introduction to tools / approaches to recording (30 minutes)
> in this section we’ll go through basic recording techniques such as microphone placement and amplification to help facilitate approaches to capturing sound
– Group Assignment / Discussions / Project Work (60 minutes)
– Group Presentation (30 minutes)
2. Session B
– Listening Party (15 minutes)
– Introduction to basic mixing / production (45 minutes)
> this talk will cover basic technical aspects of production in sound design, from EQ, effects and stereo imaging.
– Project Work (90 minutes)
– Final Group Presentation (30 minutes)

Suggested Reading
1. Sonic Archeologies by Shannon Mattern
2. Soundscape Ecology: The Science of Sound in the Landscape byBernie Krause
3. Distant Echoes by David Hendy
4. Deep Listening by Pauline Oliveros
5. More Brilliant Than a Thousand Suns by Kodwo Eshun
6. The Sound of a Dying Planet is Silence by Daniel Forkner
7. The Diabolical Symphony of the Mechanical Age by Karin Bijsterveld
8. The Cinematic Sound Design of The Last of Us: An interview with Mike Niederquell by Zdravko Djordjevic

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