Spatialising the Humanities Workshop

Last week I attended a workshop for Kent University postgraduates in the Humanities on spatial theories and practices. As my project draws heavily on spatial and urban studies, the workshop was a great opportunity to discuss some of the issues I’ve been working through in applying acoustics to theories of space.

The two day conference was structured around presentations of various approaches, both the theory and analysis, followed by activities. It was helpful, as well as just fun, to get out and walk around Canterbury Cathedral and the old city centre discussing different ways of engaging with space. I had some fun taking sound measures of two streets and comparing the readings. One street was open to traffic with a major four lane cross street at the end, while the other was the main pedestrian street through the old city centre. The SPL measures were distinct for each but the overall levels did drastically change.

In another activity, we walked around the Cathedral to count and assess the number of spaces within the cathedral. Since I had talked with the organisers before about the problems with defining space, I took the easy route and listed one space. I only marked one space for the fact that wherever I walked, I heard the organist practicing. Despite not playing at full volume, the organ could be heard in every space of the cathedral. The quality of the sound changed depending on where you stood but, you could always hear the music.

It was a great day of discussion and activities that gave me some good ideas and things to think about in terms of my own project. Plus, I got to walk around the cathedral for free and with a bunch of spatial analysis junkies.

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