Friday, 26 December 2014

The Locker

We have our ears with us everywhere we go; we can use them to enjoy some sounds, train them to amplify their sensibility to certain kinds of sounds and even clog them to avoid listening to yet other kinds of sounds, but we cannot leave them behind and go on with our lives! They are an essential part of our privacy. Our private sphere includes among other things the spatial ambience that within it our ears are most sensible and susceptible to surrounding sounds and voices.  But what if we could expand the ambit of our audio-privacy by actually leaving our ears behind whenever we wish! This is the central theme for this particular work.
It is very hard, at least for me, not to get a little bit sci-fi when considering the possibility of actually being able to unburden yourself of one of your senses. Having this thought in mind I headed over to a women’s fitness club to test and see what it feels like to have such a power, if not a superpower. Honestly I have never been very fond of fitness clubs for the sole fact that you are usually to go through an unfair musical torture and listen to hours of unceasing, ludicrously up-beat music, while your only sin is that you just wanted to stay healthy and in shape.

Therefore, as I enter the club I proceed with my usual steps; first I change into my work-out cloths and then put all my other belongings in my locker, but with just one difference. I also place a recording device into my locker. The recording device here is supposed to play the role of my ears. It is as if I have the power to shake off my sense of hearing by leaving my ears behind with my other belongings in the locker, because I find the music in the club aggressive and a violation of my audio-privacy so I decide not to listen to it. Then in this work you would hear the voices that an emancipated ear would have heard, had I had the power to free myself of my ears!!!!

Friday, 12 December 2014


It is hard to imagine how we sound when we are asleep and I have been always interested in hearing myself sleeping, so I decided to record myself while I am at sleep and see what kind of world, as far as the audible components of a world are concerned, our slumbered bodies and somnolent minds have to endure. I set up my recording device and tried to go to sleep, naturally it took me more than usual to fall sleep as my mind was fully aware. All the time that I was trying to put my mind to sleep and tricking it into believing that this is just another mundane night, was itself in a way part of the process of sleeping. I think that is the conscious part and the actual sleeping is the unconscious part of sleeping. I recorded everything from the moment that I went to bed until the time that I was awake and gotten out of the bed.

In the morning to my great surprise when I listened to the recorded voices of my last night sleep I realized that when we are sound asleep it is usually not as quite as we might believe! The problem wasn’t so much of my snoring or any other sounds generated by me, but the voices of the city again! I was surprised to find that the city is apparently awake and roaring all through the night as we are taking our vacations form our cramped and dingy corners of our realities.  All night long, it was the never-ending procession of sounds of the different vehicles whizzing by my window. The even bigger surprise is that my window opens to a lonely and almost abandoned back alley and not a chock-full superhighway. I am not sure if I was actually able to record any moment of silence that night or better say I’m not sure if I be able to record any moment of silence at all!

Iron Combines With Oxygen Easily

Inactive Tunnel

You are not there for any specific purpose and when you are there you are not sure what you are supposed to do ! You clear your throat a couple of times, you yawn, scan everything that is within your line of vision, and finally after a few awkward eye-contact decide to take out ‘’the ultimate time-killer, your cell phone. While happily fiddling around with it, you thank whatever supernatural deity you believe in for the invention of ‘’Smart Phones’’. You are certainly better, but you still have to wait for long before you are finally emancipated form there!
In case you are wondering where I am referring to, you can conjure up images of any time you have been to a waiting room, departure lounge or generally any place where serves as an intermediary space that stands between you and your destination, and has no other function but this. In urban environments, we spend an awful amount of time in these ‘’transitional spaces’’. The bad news is that there is no possibility of circumventing them either, as there are no ways to get around them.

 In order to get to our desired destination we have to pass through these transitive stages.
The city is full of them. It is as if cities are huge labyrinths of intertwined cells that are connected by wormholes that would get you from any cell to its neighboring cell, and only and only to the adjacent one. The cells are our destinations and the wormholes are the transitional spaces. No matter where you are, at hospitals, governmental offices, restaurants, subway stations or prisons, you are bound to wait for certain amount of time to get to your final destination. The most striking feature of these spaces is that they are usually considered to be common spaces. There you are expected to enjoy only a limited freedom, as it is not your space so you cannot perform any intelligible act. You are there to just sit and wait and not to generate any meaningful action. The only voice that you hear when in these transitional spaces is a shrouded murmuring that lurks in the background, an incoherent and incomprehensible clump of undertone that is most representative of its also meaningless individual components.


Schafer had devised during his field studies with the WSP: background sounds he defined as “keynotes” (in analogy to music where a keynote identifies the fundamental tonality of a composition around which the music modulates); foreground sounds (intended to attract attention) are termed “sound signals.”
Sounds that are particularly regarded by a community and its visitors are called “soundmarks”—in analogy to landmarks. Natural examples of the latter include geysers, waterfalls and wind traps while cultural examples include distinctive bells and the sounds of traditional
Schafer’s terminology helps to express the idea that the sound of a particular locality (its keynotes, sound signals and soundmarks) can—like local architecture, customs and dress—express a community’s identity to the extent that settlements can be recognised and characterised by their soundscapes. Unfortunately, since the industrial revolution, an ever increasing number of unique soundscapes have disappeared completely or submerged into the cloud of homogenised, anonymous noise that is the contemporary city soundscape, with its ubiquitous keynote—traffic.

While the hi-fi soundscape is—Acoustic Ecologists suggest—balanced in terms of level, spectra and rhythm, the lo-fi soundscape features an almost constant level. This creates a “Sound Wall” (Schafer 1977a, 93), isolating the listener from the environment. Spectrally, the contemporary lo-fi soundscape is biased towards the low frequency range (thanks to the internal combustion engine and sounds related to electric power). Due to the twenty-four hour society, the  rhythms of daily routine are, in some localities, significantly eroded.

Common Alley

I have never seen him and he hasn’t seen me either, nevertheless I have to listen to him singing almost every week for the past couple of months. I have named him ‘’the itinerary preacher form the abyss of the metaphysics of oppression”! Quite a name, I know! So much I know of him that he is not exactly a strolling minstrel, but more like an auguring self-appointed oracle whom I have to sit through on my weekends. Believe it or not but he sings ‘’beliefe’’ and shouts out “dogmas” in the streets for a living which apparently here is a fairly profitable profession.  

I ask myself: ‘’Do I have to listen?’’ then I immediately respond to my myself: ‘’Well no! You are free to leave’’, and I do. I leave the room and strut over to the living room, but there he is again! I can hear him everywhere I go. Curiously enough I realized that despite the worlds of difference that existed in our philosophical points of view i.e. our epistemological viewpoints, our bodies from the perspective of their physical and ontological statues are virtually contiguous! Let’s put more simply: we think differently but we occupy neighboring locations. “What a queer paradox” I protest. ‘’Wouldn’t it be more appropriate to match the ontology of the world with our epistemology?” I ask. Absurdity of the question even stuns me so after deciding to let the question go unanswered I take out my recording device and start recording the man from the other side, the preacher. As I am recording and listening to him, I murmur to myself: ‘’Why are picking on him? He is not doing something wrong. It is after all a common space, a shared alley and there are no rules as to what are to be done in such a place. He is just utilizing an otherwise useless space!!!!”

Motorbikes Produce Almost Half of Tehran’s Sound Pollution

Yes, noise is a form of pollution from motorized vehicles that’s bad for your health. Sound pollution in Iranian cities is hitting an all-time high. The large cities like Tehran are the worst. Sound pollution can be any unwanted or offensive sounds that unreasonably intrudes into our daily activities. When a person drives by open windows in a street, the sound is something like 70 decibels. A whisper is 35 decibels and a normal room has a sound intensity of 40 db. At 45 db a person cannot sleep. At 85, the ears are damaged, and at 120, it can hurt your ears. The main reasons for sound pollution in Iranian cities are the sound of vehicles, airplanes, construction of buildings, small construction jobs and more. The most sound-polluted city in Iran is Tehran, which is now a city that draws the attention of the new comers by high amount of noise. This noise is much more felt in the central parts of the city. The first reason for this pollution is the cars. Older cars usually produce more noise pollution. The second reason is the motorcycles. As Dr. Yousef Rashidi, the managing director of Tehran’s Air Quality Control Company says 49 percent of the sound pollution of Tehran is produced by motorcycles. These vehicles give out a 90 db sound. Airports and trains are other important contributors. The statistics say that in most of the metropolitan areas of Iran the urban noise is 20 to 30 db higher than the allowed limits. But the government isn’t taking this problem seriously. Of course some partial steps have been taken during the last 10 to 15 years. Some sound walls on the two sides of noisy urban highways have been constructed, for when highways pass through the residential neighborhoods. More severe actions are needed to combat sound pollution, an often overlooked form of pollution in the Middle East. The government and parliament of Iran should prepare strict laws like the Noise Control Act (NCA) of 1972 in the United States to save our health, and hearing.