KORHAN EREL

What form of a wave are you working with for the “Waves” exhibition? Why did you choose this form?

The form of wave I have chosen to work with is sound, and especially spectrograms. The building block of all sounds is the purest sound wave in the nature, sinus waves. Sinus waves are made of a single frequency and their harmonics do not contain other frequencies. In other words, a sinus wave vibrating at 440Hz will only contain this frequency. A guitar string vibrating at 440Hz however contains many other frequencies vibrating, since it is a complex wave. By employing the Fourier Transform function we can differentiate and calculate the different sinus waves that create a sound. The graph that depicts the time, frequency, and sound intensity of the sinus waves that form the sound is called a spectrogram. The y-axis in this graph indicates the frequency range (mostly between 20Hz and 20.000Hz, in other words the frequency range hearable by the human ear), and the x-axis indicates time. The intensity of the sound is depicted with the color of the dot placed at a certain moment and certain frequency. The color choice is up to us, but usually low intensities are darker and higher ones are lighter. In my visuals I have chosen to employ shades of grey, while black indicated the absence of a sinus wave at the given frequency, and white depicted the wave of the highest intensity. In short, a spectrogram is the statistical graph of the thousand sinus waves that create a specific sound; it is its picture. I work with the statistical picture of the thousand sinus waves that create a specific sound. Concurrently, the wave forms of the field recording will be visualized. The wave form is the visual depiction of the digitized sound. It resembles what we see on Soundcloud.

What kind of a relationship do you think exists between the waves you work with, and humans; or what kind of a relationship you would have wished for?

Other than a few exceptions, sound is inescapable and it awaits us everywhere; humans and sound cannot be separated. In today’s world, most sounds are made directly or indirectly by humans – especially in urban spaces with dense populations. I would wish to see a world with less sound pollution, in which I believe the relationship between humans and sound would be much healthier. I will depict sound only through visuals in my work, which return will most likely raise the viewer’s awareness about sound.

Could you briefly explain your project “Findings” for the “Waves” exhibition? How did you design this project, and how did you come up with the idea?  

The idea for the project came from the appealing relationship between the appearance of spectrograms and their usage for medical diagnoses. I thought of turning my field recordings that I have collected through out the years into spectrograms and take notes on them like a doctor or a traveler would. I won’t be making any diagnoses however; I will only be showing the deviations.

When recording, did you have to pay attention to your behavior so that the field’s own sound isn’t affected? For instance, would a cough, or shifting in your seat have made a difference on to spectrogram? What kind of a technology have you employed to create the spectrograms?

Of course I needed to keep my audial input to a minimum. A cough or a squeaking chair would have made a visible difference on the spectrogram. I used the free software Sonic Visualizer developed by Chris Cannam of Queen Mary, University of London.

Could you briefly describe how spectrograms work? What elements of the sound create this image, frequency or decibel? How does this image differentiate according to sound?

Spectrograms are statistical graphics. In my work, the recording time is the x-axis; and the frequency range used in the analyses is the y-axis. The frequency range used is usually the range that the human ear can hear, which is between 20Hz and 20.000Hz. For some of my field recordings I might use a narrower range. The intensity of any given sound at any given time is depicted with a color of my choosing. I employ the white-grey-black color scheme because it looks great on paper. High frequencies are darker, and softer frequencies are lighter. The absence of a sound is white (so it is not mistaken for white noise).

Do you ever dream of a life that is perhaps a bit utopic, where you can use sounds/spectrograms to express the inexpressible, or change your daily routine to the extreme?  

I don’t think so. My life is quite utopic as it is.

When revealing urban spaces’ soundscapes, has there been a time where you were surprised by the outcome?

The recording I’ve done on the metro ride between Esenler bus station and Zeytinburnu was fascinating for the sounds the train made between stations. I will be showing this visual at the exhibition.