Zen drops

The silver pavilion Ginkaku-ji in Kyoto on an eraly morning in December 2018. A barely audible water “stream” in miniature. The subtle expression implies a quiet setting, and features like this are commonplace in Japanese zen gardens. They may be used for meditative purposes and to stimulate a “heightened listening”. Listen also to Chishaku-in and Funda-in.


A  bamboo pipe attached to a shaft. The cavity is filled with water until the equilibrium is broken and the tube turns. Originally, this construction was used by farmers to keep unwanted animals away from the harvests. Gradually they began to appreciate the sound, which can be regarded as a symbolism of time and eternity. This shishi-odoshi is from Shisen-dō, and it is said that Jozan, who built the garden, was one of the first people to start enjoying the shishi-odoshi as part of the garden aesthetics. The sound and character of shishi-odoshi varies, another example: https://vimeo.com/311374391


Strong plant and water sounds have a good ability to mask traffic noise in green areas and parks near roads, especially in combination with noise reduction.The traffic noise is mixed up with and attributed to natural, more relevant and positively charged elements. Visual aspects are also important. A straight noise barrier raises associations to the road and the large and fast scale available there. An organic and human scale in the form, provides a naturalness that makes it easier to accept the masking.


The water of life

Water is perhaps the most original of all sounds. We find it in the rippling brook, the river and the waterfall. In the rain that drops on the leaves of the plants. In the ocean waves breaking against the beach.
Life itself probably occurred once upon a time accompanied by water sounds. Maybe that’s why it’s so appreciated – we’ve always been addicted to it.
In the city, fountains and other installations work as a reminder and a story of nature’s water richness. A stylized and controlled form of nature with many sensory variations for the correct architectural expression.
In the strong cascading and powerful installation, a power demonstration brings awakening and respect.
It is often found in conjunction with various royal and national facilities, where one also finds the larger scale that a stronger sound in the city demands.
Strong installations can mask not only traffic noise but all other sounds as well.

Stortorget (2003) – Caruso St John architects, Eva Löfdahl, Kalmar stad and Statens konstråd

In Stortorget, Kalmar, you will find water art below the ground. Five wells produce different shapes of water and you hear it splash, pour and resonate under your feet. The project allude to the history of Kalmar, since the citizens used to fetch their water from this square.  Stortorget received the Sienapriset award in 2004.

Links: About the project




Paradox parabol (2002) – Leo Nilsson and Lennart Andersson

The sculpture that landed from outer space. Listen to its mysterious electroacoustic drone as it hoovers at Tomarps Kungsgård, outside Helsingborg, since 2002. Originally, Paradox parabol used sensors that registered when someone approached, and accordingly started to play sound. The closer the sculpture you came, the louder it played. However, lately some drift disturbances occurred, and the sculpture sometimes needs to be started manually.


Leo Nilsson på Wikipedia

Tomarps kungsgård

Under Voices (2007) – China Blue

How does the Eiffel Tower sound?

Under voices by China Blue

The sounds in the video are recordings made using contact microphones, placed directly on some of the tower’s metal surfaces. With this technique, the artist China Blue has managed to capture some kind of inner soul or voice that has been impossible to hear before. The special, almost singing sound arises when the huge metal structure moves in the wind or is influenced by the visiting people so that resonance tones are stimulated.

Under Voices (2007) – China Blue

What is the sound of the Eiffel Tower? In the video you hear recordings made using designed seismic microphones, placed directly on metal surfaces in the tower. With this technique, the artist China Blue managed to capture a sense of an inner soul, a voice, never heard before. The unique, almost singing sound breaks out when the huge metal structure is touched by wind or when visitors stimulate resonance tones through their steps.


SubAqua (2009) – Åsa Stjerna

The artwork SubAqua was based on underwater sound recordings from the harbour basin in Hafencity, Hamburg. The work was presented on site through special loudspeakers shaped as periscopes. To make a visual allegory, the tubes might be called sound binoculars.

Read more


Recall (2006) – Andrea Ray

Every day at 3 PM the artwork Recall rings over the old pastoral fields near Wanås, Scania. The tunes you hear are those of “kulning”, a form of singing traditionally used to call back cows from their pasture.
A historical postcard made from sound.

Kulning: Susanne Rosenberg. Read more

Andrea Ray

Diapason II (2009) – Christina Kubisch

This installation was inspired by tuning forks. It focuses on the interaction between the installation and its sorroundings (architecture, atmosphere, location). The place itself is being tuned. Ljudkullen is located in Scaniaparken by the western harbour in Malmö.

Discover Ljudkullen and Scaniaparken under projects. (Idea and implementation: City gardener Gunnar Ericson and Bo Andersson, Gatukontoret.)

The Sound Arts Program is since 2002 designed by the landscape architect Frans Gillberg and Starfield simulation. More info at Malmö Stad and on the website by artist Christina Kubisch.

A House For Edwin Denby (2000) – Robert Wilson

A solemn sonic atmosphere, reminding of the clang of an organ, lingers among the trees. Inside the little chapel you can hear a man reading a text, but the house is empty. Apart from an opened book on a table, and some lonely light bulbs hanging from the ceiling, there are no signs of residents.
You can not enter the house.

Permanent exhibition at Wanås Art, 2000 and forward.


Ljudkullen – Gatukontoret, Malmö stad and ERA Landskap

Discover Ljudkullen! In Scaniaparken, by the western harbour in Malmö, you find a unique space equipped with speakers. Music and sound art are performed to complement the sounds from the sea.

Idea and implementation: Head gardener Gunnar Ericson and Bo Andersson, Head of Department at Gatukontoret.

Find out more about what’s happening in Ljudkullen at the blog Starfield simulation and on the website of Malmö City. Or listen to Christina Kubisch Diapason II under the heading Sound art. Scaniaparken was designed by Era Landskap.

Solbjerg plads (2005) – SLA Architects

Danish landscape architects of SLA Architects often focus on peoples relation to, and interaction with, a certain location. In Frederiksberg, Copenhagen, they have worked with sounds and other sensuous experiences. The square is provided with wells equipped with speakers, from which nature-inspired sounds are played.






How is the sound image affected?

Documentation of a central square area with and without snow. Traffic intensity was similar on both occasions.

Snow absorbs sounds, as well as organic soil and peat for example. A greener city therefore gives a lower background noise and creates the best conditions for a more relevant audio environment, where completely new sounds will be able to come out.

flash  Adobe Flash 10 is required. Install