Audible Dwelling 0.1, Columbus Ohio, 2009/2010
- What do We Hear, What do We Say?


Audible Dwelling situated at the parking lot in Columbus, Ohio, 2009/2010

Introduction to the Audible Dwelling

What Do We Hear, What Do We Say?
How do cities understand themselves? What thoughts, voices, images, stories, laws, and ideas are part of that process of understanding? How is that understanding organized?

Audible Dwelling is a stereo system, which is also a dwelling. It is composed of two units. Each unit has two compartments. The first compartment contains equipment for recording sound and drivers for sending sound signals to the second. The second compartment is a sealed speaker enclosure containing a transmission line that converts the signal into sound. Each unit is also a dwelling composed of two rooms: a living room for entertaining visitors and a smaller room that doubles as an office and sleeping compartment.

Audible Dwelling is a part of Learning Site’s ongoing interest in making buildings speak. It is conceived as a movable space that can experience different places. In the coming years, Audible Dwelling will travel to new locations, examine different cultural, social and economic landscapes and speak its thoughts to those landscapes. To this end, the loudspeaker units have been designed and constructed in order to be dismantled and shipped.

In each dwelling four times subwoofer 18" and six fullrange driver 8" is installed

The left speaker on the corner of E. Long St. and N. Washington Ave.

For iteration 0.1 in Columbus, Ohio, Learning Site commissioned Jaime Stapleton to write a speech for Audible Dwelling. This speech is specific to the place in which Audible Dwelling was built and first activated. In future lives, Audible Dwelling will learn different things from different places and say different things to such places.

Each unit of Audible Dwelling contains an echo-free, anechoic chamber. One end of each unit houses four 18 inch subwoofers and six, full range 8 inch drivers.

Transmission-line, seen from the side
The second compartment with the bed, table and bench for the transmission-line

In Audible Dwelling, the table, the chair and bed, situated in the second compartment of each unit also acts as the transmission line. The design of the furniture takes its inspiration from Eileen Gray's table. In Audible Dwelling, the furniture gives perfect sound to the air. In the publication Audible Dwelling a text by Kathrine Bonnivier, "Table", is included.

Eileen Gray’s Table, 1922

The transmission-line takes it starting point in the use of furniture, informed by Eileen Gray’s table. Table, chair and bed is installed in the Echo-Free cabinet. Furniture to produce out the perfect sound into the air.

A space to speak from
Audible Dwelling 1.0 speaks about the economy and culture of a particular place; a landscape of cars, asphalt and parking lots; of air-conditioned shoppingmalls and museums and of the intellectual architecture of abstraction and positivism engendered by such built environments; and of peculiarly American ideas of revolution and what it might mean to misquote Thomas Jefferson and ‘renovate the revolution”.

For Audible Dwelling 1.0 sound engineers were given specific instructions on how to calibrate the output from the speakers. Output volumes were conceived on a scale of 1 to 10. The quietest parts of Audible Dwelling’s speech, which begin with a whisper, were audible to persons standing three meters from the Audible Dwelling. This correlated to ‘1’ on the scale. The normal volume of the spoken word from Audible Dwelling was clearly audible to commuters in cars queuing at the traffic intersection of Washington Street and Long Street, 20 meters away from Audible Dwelling. This correlated to ‘2’ on the scale. The loudest part of Audible Dwelling’s speech, a roar of laughter toward the end, was audible five blocks away, about half a mile or 0.8 kilometers. This correlated to ‘10’ on the scale.

Audio: Is this Columbus, Ohio? Audible-Dwelling-web.mp3
Digital audio file, 16:32 minutes

The speech for Columbus was constructed in exchange with Jaime Stapleton. The sound is performed by Cassandra Troyan.

The royal sound system. Three pipes conduct sound up from the basement into the King’s ‘winter room’. The pipes are covered when not in use.
An orchestra plays out of sight in a basement room

How to Make Buildings Speak
A variety of solutions have been developed at different times that enable houses to get a voice. That history is rather different from the history of concert halls and opera houses. It is also rather more obscure, running from the palace of a Danish king, who had his castle built into an analogue sound system, to 19th century working persons collectives who built houses to speak in, to private persons who transformed the basements of their homes into gigantic subwoofers. In that history one moves from mellifluous music of aristocratic hierarchy, to the agitational sounds of working persons, to high-end hi fi consumers. Learning Site will talk about “People’s Houses” for political speech later in this publication. Before we do, we shall talk about hi fi houses. Kings, private individuals, artists, architects and composers have all investigated the notion of speaking houses.
As early as 1600, the King of Denmark had a early home music system installed in his castle. A 3-pipe system, moved the sound of musicians playing in the basement and into his "winter room". The system was a forerunner of the "piped music" we hear today in public spaces like shopping malls, and the large sound systems in our private cars and homes.

A private house in Italy transformed into a giant loudspeaker system. (Basement)
August Palm had to leave the room and use the pear tree to address his audience

House of Speech
The tradition of People’ Houses from which speeches could be made was of central importance to 19th and 20th century labour movements, democratic movements and political revolutionaries alike. Here, the act of speech making is intimately entwined with place. Particular buildings and urban infrastructure have determining effects on the possibilities of speech, since speech must always pay attention to its own context. The concept of Audible Dwelling is derived from Scandinavian democratic movements of the 19th century.

A drawing of Clara Zetkin from a Danish newspaper - the day after the 26th of August 1910 where the International Women's Conference was help at the Second International's conference. (Left) Peoples House, Jagtvej 69, from 1897

In Denmark in 1872, having no place of their own to organise from, a group of workers met on the “North Common” outside the city of Copenhagen. Following a confrontation with the police and the military, a collection was raised from the workers for the construction of building for the newly organising workers movement. The first People’s House was built from this collection. In the following years, workers movements built more houses and bought parks for public meetings. Most famously, in 1897 a People’s House was built at Jagtvej 69 in Copenhagen. It was a building that would house many important speech acts and political events.

In the early 20th century the People’s House at Jagtvej 69, Copenhagen, hosted an important meeting of the “Second International”. It is widely believed that the German socialist politician Clara Zetkin made an important speech in favour of women’s suffrage and the founding of International Women’s Day at this conference. Learning Site undertook extensive research to locate this speech.

Aubible Dwelling on the corner of Boone St. and N. Washington Ave. next to two perserved dwellings placed on the parking lot

Thanks go to: Viggo Wichmann (ideas for construction, construction and things in general); Jaime Stapleton (speech for Audible Dwelling 0.1 and
publication editor); Cassandra Troyan (speech performance); Justin Stapleton
(sound system advisor and essay text); Joshua Penrose and Tony Peluso (sound design); Frank Castenien; Stephen Cleveland; Ian Horn; Matthew Donaldson; Ian Keller; Nicholas Hoffman; Mary Vanwassenhove; Zach
Kelley; Paul Simmons; Brian Sharrock (construction team); Tim Rietenbach and Junior Seminar and Advanced Sculpture (CCAD); the curatorial staff at Bureau for Open Culture, CCAD: James Voorhies (director of exhibtions) and Diana Matuszak (exhibitions manager and photoes).

Learning Site wish to give special thanks to the Workers Museum Library for research assistance and Katarina Bonnevier and Justin Stapleton for the essays they wrote for Learning Book #004, Audible Dwelling.

Learning Book #004, Audible Dwelling, 2011
Audible Dwelling 0.2 housing Sound School Part I, Siggalycka, 2014
Audible Dwelling 0.2 placed at the transnational harbor CMP, Malmö, 2013
Audible Dwelling 0.2placed at the Science Park ESS, Lund, 2013
Audible Dwelling 0.2 placed at a parking lot in front of Tensta Konsthall, 2013
Descent to Revolution, CCAD, Columbus, Autumn 2009

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