Catherine SZÁNTÓ | FR |




Sounds of the garden: (Spatial) experiments in listening. The example of Murin-An (Kyoto)




Garden can be thought of as an ornamental art, a welcome but superfluous addition to our everyday lives. Yet gardens are also – and have always been – a place for experiments – technical, botanical, but also spatial and experiential. In this paper I would like to explore the issue of the garden as a place for experimenting with 1) the making of sound and the 2) hearing of sound, that is, the complexity of the (aesthetic) experience of sound. I will look at the example of the garden in Murin-An, in Kyoto. Despite its small size (3500 m²), the garden is particularly rich in sound effects created by water flow taking a variety of forms. In the experience of the garden, sound has a double role. First, a static one: it is used as a way to create particular sonic environments that reinforce the ambiance of the different scenes created in the garden, with references to both the natural mountain environment visible beyond the garden and to the culturally important image of an isolated hermitage. Its second role is dynamic: it is used as a means to invite the visitors to discover the space. Sometimes visible from the path, sometimes hidden or partially hidden by the landform and the vegetation, a variety of sound-creating features partake in the "hide-and-reveal" aesthetics of the garden. By creating distant spatial appeals (over there) that complete and articulate the polysensory experience offered by a given space at any given moment (here and now), they invite visitors to explore dynamically (by changing position or shifting the focus of attention) spaces that always seem to be perceived incompletely. The appeal to memory (of what was already perceived) and imagination (of what might be perceived if a certain course of action is taken) partakes in a constantly evolving spatial sense of the garden (sense of orientation) that modulates and extends beyond what is actually perceived. The richness of the garden’s spatial structure makes thus possible a variety of imaginary and polysensory scenarios that can be played out in our perception of the garden as we walk through it. The intertwining of the visual and sound experience it affords, its combined call for looking and listening, makes it a relevant example to explore the rôle of attentive (and necessarily active!) listening in developing our heuristic capacities in construing and understanding the spaces we inhabit. (This talk is a development of research presented at the 3rd International Congress on Ambiances and of a soundscape workshop held at Murin-An in December 2019.)





Maître de conférences associée en Ville et Territoire Ecole Nationale Supérieure d'Architecture Paris La Villette 144 avenue de Flandre, 75019 Paris Chercheur Laboratoire AMP (Architecture, Milieu, Paysage) - HESAM/MC Enseignante Ecole de la Nature et du Paysage - INSA Centre-Val de Loire