Photos by Oscar Björk
Echo of our time
A project by Oscar Björk
Resonance from our surroundings is something we experience daily but very rarely gets much focus. It is often in places where we meet powerful reverberation, for example in a church, that it becomes clear that the acoustics are a large part of the overall experience itself. People save photographs, videos and audio recordings of things that happened there and then. 360 degree images are captured or built digitally to enhance an experience of a place through interaction. But the acoustics of places are not preserved in a way that allows people from different parts of the world widely to experience the place by interacting with it themselves.
With modern audio technology, it's possible capture and preserve the resonance of a place (as Impulse response files, hereinafter referred to as IR files). The file that is created on location can then be used to recreate the acoustics in real time from a computer. The main purpose of the project Echo of our time was to start a collection of acoustics / resonance from some of Sweden's places and for the first time to preserve the files in a Swedish national archive. The project also resulted in an exhibition about room sound where visitors can interact with several of the acoustics from the captured places, and also, see the places through 360-images, which further enhances the overall experience.
The collected IR-files captured during the project Echo of our time was donated to Swedens national archive (Riksarkivet) in October 2022. The first exhibition took place at the Sigtuna Museum between May and November 2022. Now the project is looking for new collaborations 2023/2024.
Se the exhibition presentation film here (Swedish)
Get in touch: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Down below you can listen to the acoustics from two of the many places captured in Echo of our time
Stockholm City Hall - Golden Hall
Stockholm City Hall was inaugurated on 23 June 1923 and is the seat of Stockholm Municipality, Sweden. It stands on the eastern tip of Kungsholmen island, next to Riddarfjärden's northern shore and facing the islands of Riddarholmen and Södermalm. It houses offices and conference rooms as well as ceremonial halls. It is the venue of the Nobel Prize banquet and is one of Stockholm's major tourist attractions.
The Golden Hall is a banqueting hall Measuring 44-metre (144 ft) in length, it received its name when its walls were decorated by mosaics created by the artist Einar Forseth on a proposal by the City Hall architect Ragnar Östberg.
Drottningholm Palace Theatre
The Drottningholm Palace Theatre opened 1766 is an opera house located
at Drottningholm Palace in Stockholm, Sweden. It is one of the few 18th century theatres in Europe that is still used as a theatre with its original stage machinery.
Currently, the reinvigorated theatre has acquired a growing international reputation as a summer opera festival theatre by focusing on works by Haydn, Handel, Gluck and Mozart and emphasis on authentic performance. The theatre has also had guest performances by the Royal Swedish Opera.
"Dry" sounds (Without added room reverb IRs)
PROJECT LEADER - OSCAR BJÖRK:
The idea started with a walk in the nearby castle park with my daughter.
I think I have been inspired by the environment I live in. I live in the alley next to Venngarn's castle, and here in the vicinity there are large mighty natural areas, well-kept buildings and much is
preserved and inspired from the 1600s and 1700s.
As a sound engineer, my job is to capture and preserve audio in a digital format. And to preserve a building or environment in audio format feels very unusual when compared to something visual like a photograph.
I am a guitarist, and i have learned the technique of impulse responses as it has become very common to use for sampling of different guitar/bass cabinets. The files is used in the computer or a digital sampler instead of bringing an actual guitar/bass cabinet to the studio or live show.
With the same method, it is possible to capture the resonance of a room, so-called
"convolution reverb". But it is a slightly different approach because you are not primarily looking to
capture the character of speakers or microphones, but instead the surrounding environment.
It is easy to argue that an impulse response file could be as valuable as a photograph. And it
really feels quite reasonable to preserve a place in an audio format as well as figuratively.
The technology with impulse responses has been used for more than 20 years, but I feel that it has not yet reached its full potential, and no one has, as far as I know, done this type of project as a preservation and cultural heritage project before, so the project is pioneer from that aspect.