Ways of Hearing, Episode 1 & 2
- What is Krukowski’s main point about how we experience time in the “real” world versus are experiences with “digital” time? Why are these differences significant?
Krukowski explains the change in audio ,in terms of time, since the invention and widespread adoption of digital sound. He explains the elasticity of time in analog sound. When Krukowski made music his recordings sped up at certain times and slowed down at others. It is impossible for humans to keep an exact pace of playing, there is always going to be some level of deviation from the tempo. Digital recordings work at an exact pace. Digital recordings keep the pace to an exact beat, “like figures on a spreadsheet”. This grid-like storage of sounds could be considered perfect pace or one could consider that the lack of living tempo has depreciated the charm of the recording. Krokowski also explains latency. Latency only exists in digital music and it is a lag that exists based on the time digital recordings take to process. In analog sound the vibrations travel through a wire or airspace and directly out of a speaker or to your ear. With digital sound the vibrations have to be processed and translated by a computer which creates a delay.
- What does Krukowski mean when he says that listening has a lot to do with how we navigate space?
When Krukowski says that listening has a lot to do with how we navigate the space around us, he is referring to how we use our sens of hearing to identify our surroundings. When we walk down the street the are many audio clues as to what is happening around us. In New York City these audio cues are even more important because of the volume of actions all occurring around us. The automobile traffic, the crowded sidewalks of people walking by, and the bicycles riding are all things we need to be aware of when navigating the streets of New York. Krukowski points out that many people today wear headphones that block the sounds of these moving objects and in a sense blind us because we can’t hear. Humans use all of our senses to process what is happening in the world, and according to Krukowski, hearing is extremely important, possibly second only to sight in navigating the space around us.
- In the interview at the beginning of the episode, Jeremiah Moss argues that developers in Astor Place are “privatizing public space in a very stealth way.” What does he mean by this? What does Moss say about the distinction between public and private space, and why is it important?
Jeremiah Moss says that Astor Place, while still a public space has been privitized. He argues that while anyone is allowed there now there are rules and private security that change the entire fell of the space. Moss comments that in the past Astor Place was a place where “people would protest and there would be public dissent in this space”. Now that there are chain stores all around such as Kmart and CVS, they no longer allow that sort of public display. Krukowski then jokes that even though the area has changed there are still a lot of drugs sold there. He is referring to the Astor Place of years ago, when illicit drugs were sold in the neighborhood, and now there are big chain drug stores.
- What is the significance of Emily Thompson’s idea that the development of concert halls arose from desires to “control interior spaces”? How is this desire, according to Krukowski, related to earbuds and headphones?
Emily Thompson explains that concert halls and auditoriums arose to capture music but control and eliminate any other sounds. They considered other sounds as noise, so they built large halls like Radio City with walls and surfaces that absorb sound rather than allow the sounds to reverberate. Emily stated that people of that era claimed that walls were a nuisance only to be endured to protect from the weather. Krukowski argues that that desire to control sound and keep out what people consider noise is relevant to people wearing headphones which block out all outside sound. It allows people to only hear the music or other audio and the only space that people navigate with their hearing is inside their head where the music bounces around internally.
- In your own opinion, what are the key ideas from this episode about the relationship between sound and space? What strikes you as interesting about the ways that sound influences our experience of space
The key idea of this episode is that technology that has materialized to control sound and deliver it directly to our ears has limited our interaction with the world. We now have less of a connection to our surroundings. We are so involved in our own self whether we are busy staring at our phones or just swept up in whatever we are listening to on our earbuds or headphones. This can be evidenced by the selection of headphones at your local electronics store. Most brag of their noise cancelling ability allowing one to completely block their hearing from the outside world and allowing them to disconnect in one more way from their surroundings. Technology has made us all become more internalized, and we all tend to disconnect ourselves much more from the world around us.