Transitory Spacesby: Natasha

When walking from Brookfield Place to Union Station I was drawn to the transitory spaces that were in the PATH, specifically the tunnels that were bounded by sets of doors. The sounds that stood out were footsteps and the wind pressure caused by the opening and closing of the doors. I’m curious about the waves of movement that both of these sounds imply. I believe that most of the people who are walking through these spaces are focused on getting to their destination rather then the experience of transition.

Walking through the PATH

My hypothetical design intervention would be to simultaneously amplify the transitory experience of the peoples’ movements, but also to ground them to the space they are in. This would be achieved by picking up on the existing sounds, footsteps, and to change the speed (either quickening the speed or slowing it down). I think that the sound of someone or a group of people running would change the space from a sort of lo-fi, single soundscape, which ends up blanketing the sound of the space, into a space where people would all of a sudden be aware of their sounds. I think that the speed and distinction would cause people walking through the space to have an internal reaction and awareness to their surroundings: maybe someone would feel they need to step aside and let another pass; maybe they would feel more anxious. I would hope this would ground the person to their surroundings therefore allowing them to be in tune with the space, while their body is physically still in transition as they are walking towards a destination.


When I was in university, I had a small project that required me to select a site and insert a new program using the same location. I looked at the mass movement of people entering into Union Station at the end of each day. I decided to change Union Station into a meat-packing factory, thereby replacing people with cows. Maybe instead of inserting footsteps into these transitory spaces, I insert the sounds of a herd of cows. More info on this project here.








The following is a recording of my footsteps on a Sunday morning:


I explored the spaces with Stephen McLeod and Scott Kobewka. We also discussed the idea of muzak within the PATH. I used to work at King and John and would spend my winter lunch breaks in the PATH. These spaces can be bleak, especially when they double as a refuge from cubicle office life. I’ll never forgetting sitting in the food court one lunch and laughing as muzak was playing especially loud that day.  The idea that muzak is used to effect your psyche by either slowing you down to shop, relaxing you, or distracting you from unpleasant conditions is very interesting to me. We discussed the idea of using muzak in these transitory spaces to evoke a new emotion of calmness to the sometimes chaotic conditions of these tunnels.

Interestingly enough, there are similar products on the market that do they exact opposite: sounds to deter people and animals. There is a product called The Mosquito that plays a high frequency tone that apparently only teens can hear. It’s used in certain private/ public spaces and malls to ensure that there is no loitering of teens. Funny enough, here in Toronto we just installed a similar device at the Bathurst Subway Station called Bird-Be-Gone which has the same effect except on pigeons. So basically teens and rodents are both unwanted in certain public (private?) spaces.

Floor Covering Project Ideasby: Jessie

Floor Covering/ Crazy Machine Project

A floor covering that makes noise or reacts somehow to the viewer’s body. I loved the Jingle Bells Intervention from the Revoicing the Urban Soundscape reading. Walking on Bubble Wrap would be so much fun! I’ve been paying more attention to the sounds I generate in my daily life, like footsteps. The Jingle Bells Intervention was great because it directly engaged viewers with the space and the sounds in the space. So, I’ve been trying to brainstorm ideas for a floor covering that would make interesting sounds when stepped on. This floor covering could be adapted to a gallery space or to a semi-contained outdoor space (maybe a vacant lot or a basketball court). Pop Rocks would be cool to step on. I really like crushing little origami sculptures or sandcastles under my feet. Cornflakes would be creepy. Maybe we could prop up a thin sheet of paper a few inches above the ground and step through it like ice. I also really like the idea of making a big-crazy machine like floor covering inspired by Jean Tinguely’s self-destructing sculptures and the photo from one of Allan Kaprow’s Happenings of people stepping on tires.  A project about spectacle and chance encounters that blurs the line between art and life. An entire floor covered with different scavenged materials like old bike tires and tubes, balloons and beach balls sliced in half. The tires would be squishy, like a bouncy castle floor. Balloons and other machines could be filled with paint or smoke or sparkles so they explode weird contents when they’re stepped on. Maybe we could rig the space so different lights and projections would light up when stepped on. At the Science World in Vancouver my favorite thing is the giant piano that lights up and plays notes when you step on it. Wonderful! I would also love to find away to give all people in the space contrails to track their movements. Other elements could be rigged to make different kinds of noises. Pop. Splash. Sputter. By the end of the evening the floor would be piles of broken machines, popped balloons and assorted junk. Latecomers would see the ashes of the project. 

Nine Stories (Jacqui Arntfield)by: EQUΔLΔTERΔL

The architecture of Lower Union Station nullifies sound. There is lots of it, but no one part is distinct. The ceiling is low and the walls are always near, just enough that no sound dies but no sound flourishes. Everything reverberates until the distinguishing properties are compacted and lost. Assuming any thing had any place there to begin with. I suspect it may ultimately be the function and not the design (assuming those elements are divisible) of Lower Union that dictates the sonic vacuity.

It is an inherently transitional space, existing only as a purgatory between where you were and where you will be. (Almost) no one comes here to be here and it is (arguably) this temporary purposelessness that forms the core of the ominous and omnipresently languid noise.

And if it is the case that the noise unique to this space is mostly the result of a psychological response to its utility, it should follow that by altering the cognition and therefore the behaviour of its occupants, one could, in fact and perceptibility, alter the noise generated within it.

With these conditions and this hypothesis in mind, I conceived of an intervention which aims to indirectly modify the noise produced within the space by directly modifying the thoughts initiated by those producing it.

This indirect, hypothetical intervention is simple: distribute multiple copies of one book to everyone waiting in Lower Union in order to reduce the symptoms and expressions of desultory placelessness and to create a sense of harmony and passive connectedness between alienated and anxious strangers. To give everyone a collective object and focus to absorb individually  could mean they move less, talk less, eat less, touch less (etc) and subsequently create less sound. The intention would be to induce an external quiet by first establishing it internally.

Suggested book for hypothetical distribution: J.D. Salinger’s Nine Stories because short stories require less commitment and there are choices. And because it is captivating and I love it and this is my limitless make believe project.

THE PATH | Scott, Stephen, Natashaby: Noise Intercepted

Steve, Natasha, and I walked through the path between Union Station and Brookfield Place. We had a whole bunch of ideas for this space, but our main idea for an intervention comes from a combination of the ambient sounds found in the empty hallways and the sound of Muzak (elevator music) found in hallways with shopping.

I (Steve) was thinking a lot about the way Muzak is used to direct people through space and to keep you spending money.  I was wondering if it might be possible to compose an ambient soundscape that makes people curious about the space they are inhabiting.  I would make compositions from found sounds (specifically mechanical drones and hums, banal ambient sounds that we have learned to ignore) and add rhythm, tone and harmony to their arrangement. I would hope that listeners would become more attuned to the accidental music of these machines, hearing a pop melody in the clunk and buzz of their air conditioning unit.

I (Natasha) am curious about transitory spaces, specifically the tunnels in the PATH that are bounded by a set of doors. The sounds that stand out are the footsteps and the sounds of wind pressure. I’m curious about the waves of movement that both of these sounds imply. I believe that most of the people who are walking through these spaces are focused on getting to their destination. My design intervention would be to simultaneously amplify the transitory experience of the peoples’ movements, but also to ground them to the space. This would be achieved by picking up on the existing sounds, footsteps, and to change the speed (either quickening the speed or slowing it down). I think that the sound of someone or a group of people running would change the space from a sort of lo-fi, single soundscape, which ends of blanketing the sound of the space, into a space where people would be aware of these sounds. I think that the speed or distinction would cause people walking through the space to have an internal reaction and awareness to their surroundings: maybe someone would feel they need to step aside to let someone pass, maybe they would feel more anxious. The goal would be to pluck out a specific sound that is already existing in the space, and to alter it slightly to allow for an internal emotional reaction and awareness of the space that they are in, rather then where they are going.

Okay, so, just to not start this paragraph the same way as the others, this is Scott. I was thinking it would be cool to do something between Steve’s and Natasha’s ideas. I really like Natasha’s idea of taking the sounds of motion in this space. Since it is essentially a sidewalk underground, it could be interesting to work with this in ways that either amplify the activity or calm the activity. Muzak is designed to keep you comfortable and calm in a space, and using it, or something similar, in the path would almost be counter intuitive. It would change the affect of this space from one of motion to one of calm repose. My synthesis of Steve’s and Natasha’s ideas is to design a soundtrack that responds to the people in the space. Using sensors, the sounds would change with the flow of people through the hallway and guide them through it.

Please Hold The Handrail/Please Pick Yourself (Emily DiCarlo)by: EQUΔLΔTERΔL

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Please hold the handrail Please Hold The Handrail/Please Pick Yourself

I don’t exactly know where I am, but I have found a clock. Now, I know what time it is and this sliver of data grounds me. Recurring feelings of being lost in space but connected in time… I can walk in circles, holding designated proximity. Still, this compensating act only supplements for my lacking sense of direction.

I begin to understand my route as I walk from marker to marker – I internalize durations and my judgment of time.

During my adventure, I arrive at a set of escalators in the departures terminal.

Side by side, all ascending, from tiny speakers in the walls of the handrail, the sound of a recorded voice reminds passengers to hold the handrail, attend to all children, and to use the elevator for strollers, excess luggage and carts. This little voice, a friendly reminder, a high level publicized message… why must it serve as a function of utility. The message possesses the potential to be transformative, conceptual, uplifting – yet punctuated with a stern wake up call.

“It is 3:48PM”

“Please pick yourself. Don’t wait for someone else.”

“It is 3:39PM”

“You are an agent of freedom and choice.”

“It is 3:40PM”


Speakers and footstepsby: Labspace

Laura’s thoughts…

Upper Union Station is a strange, transient place. During the day it’s full of hurried commuters, darting every which way, standing around, watching, waiting, struggling to hear the announcements on the loudspeakers above.

But at night, everything changes. At night, when the ticket collectors have all gone home, and the lights are dim, and the people are gone, the acoustics are transformed. Every sound and sensation is maximized. Footsteps click clacking on a marble floor. The static and crackle of speakers overhead.

At night, I see Upper Union Station as a theatrical stage set, a liminal, lonely space, just waiting for someone to arrive.

A loose idea:
I’m envisioning an interactive sound piece that would utilize the already existing speaker system in Union Station to amplify the acoustics and sensation of being alone at night.

A series of microphones installed along the perimeter of the site would record the passing sound of a person’s footsteps as they enter a presumably empty station.

The recording would playback on a delayed timer, giving the unassuming “performer” just enough time to walk across the room. Once seated or stationary, the speakers overhead would playback the sound of the performer’s footsteps.

(In discussions with my group, we discussed how footsteps are auditory identifiers; how they can be considered personal portraits of their maker; the auditory equivalent to a thumbprint, if you will.) Everyone has their own unique stride.

I’m interested in the tension created when one finds them self alone in Union Station, confronted by the sounds of  footsteps from an unknown source. I’m equally interested in the exact moment (the release of tension) when the performer finally realizes that the footsteps are their own.

I wonder if that would be comforting?

All Life’s a Stageby: Noise Intercepted


If you enter Brookfields Place through the tunnels connected to the subway, you might find yourself taking a escalator up into a beautiful glass atrium on their first floor. As you rise up slowly on the escalator , a breath-taking arched glass ceiling slowly comes into view. However, the experience of the unique sonic-architecture may be dulled by the monotony of an every-day commute.

Our goal is to transform the day-to-day experience of an escalator ride into something special. The acoustics of an imposing and busy public environment like Brookfield Place can create an isolating and anonymous personal relationship with the setting. We want to create the illusion of mounting thunderous applause, in stereo, that primes the unsuspecting participant into experiencing the sound around them in a new way.

Crucial to this experience would be a tracking speaker system that is undetectable to maintain the nature of the illusion for the participants for the duration of the escalator ride.

Here’s how we imagine the experience taking place: in the middle of a busy commute on your way to and from your 9-5, you step on to the escalator and hear scattered applause. As you rise to the first floor, the intensity and fervour of the applause mounts. The grand arch of the atrium slowly reveals itself to you. The applause triggers a sense of anticipation and the timing subtly suggests that somehow, you are the star about to step onto a stage. You’ve reached the top, the applause crescendos before your grand entrance into the spotlight, at which point the illusion abruptly vanishes.

When the Brookfield Place is at peak hours, the sound of the applause might be swallowed completely into the noises of the crowd, briefly re-contextualizing the sonic experience as being about you. If the Brookfield place is quieter. the stark drop-off between the applause and the environment you’re stepping into highlights a newfound appreciation for the quiet beauty of the architecture you are stepping into.

Talk Backby: Labspace

John’s hypothetical intervention:

A microphone hung in the entrance of Union Station invites individuals to interact. Hidden speakers feed a similarly placed microphone in a different station and a communication portal is opened. Disconnected travellers are given the opportunity to connect with strangers in distant places.

Utterances and Echoesby: TIMEANDDESIRE

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For the 2nd Noise Adventure we stayed at Union Station to investigate the possible sound interventions that could arise in such a place.

We noticed the effects of echoing footsteps in the space first and foremost.

noise adventure 02

We brainstormed various possible off shoots and approaches.

Ideas ranged from observations of:

-Directions / verbal
-Transitory space
-Large wall space and projection opportunities
-Contrast to sounds and vocal exchange patterns


One idea that we think would be interesting to investigate further is the use of objects in the space to create sound and possible spontaneous interaction.

The dropping of coins in close proximity to a passer by… could create an echo and audio experience that would gain attention. But we are also interested in the audio exchange of those in the space willing to assist in picking up the ‘coins’ or other said objects… and recording these exchanges or lack there of…

Would you hear the footsteps of a passer by slow or hasten as they wish not to play a part … or continue on their path…? What would the exchanges be in different possibly stagings…. as you dropped keys… or a ceramic figurine… stack of papers… tumbling oranges out of a paper bag…

The interest here is the contrast between the sounds of the object in this social sound experiment; in particular that which provokes vocal utterances*… and minor uncertain and possible auditory exchanges….

*Utterance: “In spoken language analysis an utterance is a smallest unit of speech. In the case of oral languages, it is generally but not always bounded by silence. It can be represented and delineated in written language in many ways. Note that in such areas of research utterances do not exist in written language, only their representations do.” – from Wikipedia (


Audio Adventure in Lower Union Stationby: Stephanie

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Lower Union Station is not a place known for its pleasant auditory environment. Mostly it’s a means to an end, a brief stopover en route to a better place. Going there with the explicit directions to pay attention to the sound was a surprisingly interesting task. I found several unique soundscapes in Lower Union. There were the train tracks with the hellos and goodbyes and rumbles of trains passing through. The waiting area with its muffled announcements and droning hum of hundreds of fluorescent lights. Most interestingly, to me, was the concourse, particularly the vestibule at the entrance of the station.

Of all the spaces in the station this one is the most transient. Few people, if any (aside from the odd artist), will ever spend more than a few of seconds here. But within it exists a cacophony of sound. There is the ambient drone of the heater, footsteps, suitcase wheels, snippets of conversation and, most notably, the squeaking doors. Each door has it’s own distinct squeak. With people constantly passing through it seems like an unending improvised symphony of squeaking.

go terminal

It would be interesting, if incredibly difficult, to calibrate the squeaks so each one was a perfectly tuned note. Or better (and easier) yet, oil the doors and replace the squeaks with sensors that, when triggered by a door opening, would create notes, chords, or even bus/train-related sound effects. Then the passage way would truly become an accidental symphony. Most of the people passing through wouldn’t notice they’re the musicians in this performance but, occasionally, someone will enjoy the random music created by this installation.

We apologize for the inconvenience…by: Sheraz

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Toronto is awash with construction. Even underground, throughout Toronto’s PATH system, there are boards that request everyone’s patience: “We are renovating the city to serve you better, we apologize for the inconvenience.”

Walking through the PATH system from Brookfield Place to Union Station, I was struck by a variety of things: the amount of construction, the quality of sounds, the diversity of architecture and the fast pace of movement. In the PATH, people flowed from the financial reservoirs of downtown Toronto, down to the lake to be recirculated to the rest of Southern Ontario. Being flushed through these spaces (as my companion told me “just follow the people, they’ll probably get us to Union), made the whole experience somewhat dehumanizing – like a particle in a fast flowing stream.

Still, at each point during our slide through the PATH to Union Station, we were greeted with different forms of architecture – pipe-like tunnels, wide expansive rooms – that affected the smooth flow of people, each space echoing the flow differently. Underground, low ceilings made sounds sharp but stifling – the sound of many footsteps and crisp conversations. Above ground, especially in Union Station, high ceilings made atmospheric and echoing sounds, reflecting spaciousness and calmness.

Union Station Lower Level:

Union Station – Lower

Union Station Upper Level:

Union Station – Upper

During construction, businesses, services, etc. get shifted around, and people are generally asked to be patient, as if those things annoyed them. The apology is bidirectional – it pacifies anger, but simultaneously admits that the change is a problem that the person would (should?) be annoyed about.

So what if this was the case with sound? What if it Union Station’s Echo was put into storage during construction?

In Union Station, the atmospheric echo can be removed with a sound absorbing surface such as a heavy curtain or soundproofing foam covering the reverberating walls and roof. As my rough (very rough) sketch shows, the walls might inform commuters, saying, “Union Station’s Echo has been relocated during construction. We thank you for your patience, and apologize for any inconvenience.”

To relocate the sound, the underground portion of Union Station could be outfitted with recordings to recreate the large, echoing space of Union. By doing this, commuters might be made aware of the diversity of sound and architecture during their commute which might reduce the dehumanized ‘flush’ people experience on their way through the pipes of the PATH. Without disorienting commuters, this could humanize the walk by reminding people of the spatial relationship of sound and architecture, and their role as listeners.

In reality, this would probably not go through. But why not dream?

Sound Mapsby: Scott

For this adventure, I chose to explore the pathway between Brookfield Place and Union Station. Since it was Saturday, the hallways were pretty empty, but I can imagine that on a weekday morning they’re crammed with people moving between Union Station, the subway, and the office buildings. The sonic environment of these hallways is defined by commerce. People commuting to and from work probably generate most of the noise in these pathways. The sound generated here is a product of the socio-economic geography of Toronto.

Since starting out on this project, I’ve been thinking about mapping sounds of the city. My brother’s friends Max and Julian Stein have set out on this project and have a really astounding database of Montreal’s sounds. They explain:

Sound maps are in many ways the most effective auditory archive of an environment, touching on aspects political, artistic, cultural, historical, and technological. . . . The soundscape [of Montréal] is constantly changing, and this project acts as a sonic time capsule with the goal of preserving sounds before they disappear.

I experienced a great example of this the other day. My brother, Jonathan, lives in Edmonton, Alberta, my home town. He called me just before he got on the bus on his way to work. He works at a museum. I wasn’t sure where he was in the city, but I know where the museum is. While we were talking I heard him get off the bus, so I knew we’d have to end our conversation soon.

And then I heard it. I high-pitched vibration accompanied by a low rumbling. I knew exactly where he was and which direction he was walking.

The sound I heard was cars driving across a bridge with a steel grate deck. Edmonton has two of these bridges, and they’re frightening to ride your bike across, but there is no other sound like them in the city. The one he was walking across connects downtown to the west end over a steep ravine, and the museum is just half a block away from it.

I have since gotten in touch with Frank Russo from Ryerson about He has a huge databse of Toronto sounds that aren’t online.

Step Sequenceby: Kyle

This is the ideas generated from the Nomadic Noise Residency Adventure #2. Of the areas we were given to explore I chose to explore was the lower level of Union Station.

What I noticed is that there were corridors of speakers overhead that are fairly consistently spaced apart. I heard a crackle from one of the speakers which was repeated through all the speakers in a corridor because the line in was mirrored. As you pass through the corridor, you inevitably experience the doppler effect and therefore walk through various points (nodes) of sound. As a result, I thought “What if this can be used for an aesthetic effect? How can this be used not only to create a spatial composition, but can an experience be created by taking advantage of pre-existing architectural infrastructures (various speakers and cameras which are mostly used for communication or surveillance). I picture different frequencies distributed in different corridors to create a larger nexus of sound that can be explored and encourage passage through a structure. I find that sound / music, is often (traditionally) thought of as a linear composition, rather than a network, let alone one that can be experienced in a relative fashion. Even surround sound compositions often expect that the viewer sits “dead center” for optimal experience rather than taking advantage of the spatial setup.

Diagram of "Step Sequence" Lower Union Station

Reality Check:

Obviously, this depends on the limits of the infrastructure, and realistically, most buildings are privately owned with a sole business function in mind. Also, any technological infrastructures are often meant for safety or communication, therefore obstructing these systems disrupts the function of the business. So, this idea in actuality would never work in a place like Unioin Station, because it is a transit point, they want you to move through it, not stop and observe, however, perhaps there is a building that would be willing to lend its infrastructure? I think it is especially important if this were the case, to work with the motives of the building to enhance the experience of its clientele, not in a marketing way, but to enhance users perception of ambience. When creating interactive art, one has to make many assumptions about the behaviour and how to psychologically engage people. When looking at how architecture affects behaviour by modifying peoples pace and flow, I think works can be created by taking advantage of how people are already “interacting” by simply being within a space, and affect this further by making them by engaging and observing their surroundings.

I noticed that there were two main spaces in lower Union. Both had a contrast of pace and architectural function:

1) The corridors that channeled pedestrian flow and routing them to/from the trains.

2) Waiting areas where everyone looked static and bored, which had a fairly ineffective interactive media component…which seemed more like an advertisement than anything.

I think it would be an interesting exercise to design a “user” experience to reduce bordom, in the vein of public activities in the waiting areas and conversely, create some sort of aesthetic experience that takes advantage of the fact of people in transit. I have some ideas but they’re not necessarily sound related so that’s another tangent altogether…

Brookfield Place: 8 Five Minute Sound Interventionsby: Adam

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FILE0001 (or is seeing more interesting than hearing?)


FILE0002 (or is seeing more interesting than hearing?)


FILE0003 (or is seeing more interesting than hearing?)


FILE0004 (or is seeing more interesting than hearing?)


FILE0005 (or is seeing more interesting than hearing?)


FILE0006 (or is seeing more interesting than hearing?)


FILE0007 (or is seeing more interesting than hearing?)


FILE0008 (or is seeing more interesting than hearing?)


road trips, paintings and aporiasby: James

I have been looking at paintings of JF Lauda, in the VS Gallery right now.–pimps-and-fishmongers

He also just had a book made; a well constructed document from hong kong or something -but its title is Aporia.

This was one of my favourite words when I was younger, and have not thought of it much recently. I remember writing it a lot, kind of, or drawing it I guess. Sitting in class in high school filling the margins with its proportions and curves. Meaning aside, I just thought it was an aesthetically great form-for a word-and the meaning wasnt to bad either:

(although I still wouldnt know how to use it in a conversation)

Anyway, looking at his paintings in the gallery, I was thinking of how they were made, as I often do, picturing the artist in a room, generally on his own and making these certain marks and actions.

Today I drove to Cambridge and had sometime to think about it a bit more, but specifically related to being in the world, and the difference between the motions and actions we do all day in comparison with the motions and actions we do while we are making things. The difference between them seems somehow more of a sanctification of space then physically discernible movements. Our gestures are allowed to become more meaningful, because we designate the space to the making of things that mean, which is different from filling up a van with gasoline. But when we do demarcate the space, whether by a door to a studio, or a certain poise that comes from making art in relational or public spheres. Our actions mean more by a simple act, an altered way of being, allows us to imbue objects with more and more meaning. It seems to me that when this demarcation is made, our consciousness is somehow altered, and the space of the physical plane is changed, thinned, the first veil lifted.  I think this is why in magical operations, or procedures for casting spells, or whatever you want to call it, it is tradition to draw a circle around the area in which the operation is to occur. It is a certain, and simple way, to modify our everyday consciousness. A momment of demarcation to sanctify space.

What this leaves me with is a certain feeling of Aporia, if i’m using that word correctly. It makes me somehow question the validity of my ideas. Which made me think about this in relation to my last post, and the idea of accidental magic. I suppose that if it is possible  for this idea about magic to work, a certain demarcation is needed. Maybe if cannot be just street noise mingled with gibberish and a low hum. The space needs to be sanctified. The consciousness of the doer need be in the right place, and the observers to need to have a certain level of credulity present in their experience of these moments.


I wonder I wonder