Kenta Tanaka
Listening is a poetic way of facing places and of knowing yourself


Interview with curator Anne-Laure Chamboissier on the occasion of the group exhibition Encounter in resonance.

ALC: What is your background before joining EPAS? Was the sound practice you were used to before? What has this postgraduate brought to the development of your artistic practice?

KT: My background was music, urban studies, and design research before joining EPAS. I had some experience of creating sound installations, however, a lot of my practices were much more about music, not about sound. Thus, I would say I wasn’t so used to the sound practice and I even didn’t think of the differences between sound and music. The sonic journey through the postgraduate program made me aware of the power of sound itself. Sounds come to us directly, and make us feel something that we cannot perceive through eyes. Additionally, since my curiosity always comes from the relationships between sound and cities, my artistic question regarding urban sound arts became very clear: what part of cities could we understand through listening to the soundscapes?; how could designing soundscapes affect on cities itself?; Where could the listeners travel imaginarily only through listening to composed soundscapes?

ALC: As you know this exhibitions is focused on the question of listening. What is your proposal definition of listening?

KT: Listening is a poetic way of facing places and of knowing yourself.

ALC: You invite us to teleport ourselves into fictional landscapes, both aural and visual. Why this choice? How much of the imagination is left to the visitor?

KT: For this exhibition, I created fictional soundscapes as a element for listening. The sounds were generated by the system which automatically mixes the soundscapes of different cities from all over the world. As a element for seeing, the computer generated fictional landscapes by means of machine learning technique. The reason why I composed these two elements for my piece is that I wanted to compare the human’s power of imagination with the machines’ one: the machine visually draws the nonexistent landscapes by deeply learning lots of pictures existent cityscapes, however, human’ minds could freely imagine cities through listening to the fictional soundscapes. By juxtaposing soundscapes mixed from different cites with visual cityscapes generated by the machine, I would like to question this: what sort of cities/places do you imagine through listening to /seeing the piece?

ALC: Do you think it’s possible to convey one experience of a location through a “field recording”?

KT: Yes and no. sounds from “field recording” are composed of various elements and information: rhythm, texture, humidity, resonance, and etc. Those sounds cannot fully convey one experience of a location but they should let listeners recall some places and memories. Sounds are connected to listeners’ experience of their lives, so each individual could compose their own sonic journey through sounds from a “field recording”.

ALC: What kind of listening experience do you invite the audience to?

KT: I would like the audience to think of cities, especially during this very complicated pandemic period when we cannot easily move one place to another. The audience can freely imagine cities/places through listening to /seeing the piece. What images would you think of by just listening to the mixed soundscapes? Would your visual images by the sounds are different from the generated cityscapes by the machine? Both visual and sonic elements of the piece, what cities would your mind depict?

KIOSK Kenta Tanaka 1
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