An interview with Udo Noll (Radio Aporee)

10 Years of Sound Mapping (2/4) (English)

Radio Aporee Soundmap Radio Aporee Soundmaps presents only raw authentic field recordings and enables the downloading and many types of reuse of these sounds, even within the site itself. So the soundmap in this site may represent a pool of free raw material which can be used to create sound art (maybe using the site’s other tools as well). A similar one is FreeSounds, which provides raw material for sound design.


Let’s say the platform is also my toolbox. The soundmap, and there are as well other aspects of Aporee which are for me at least as important as it. And so I use them as tools, but these tools are also available for others. The soundmap is one of these tools, in order to make complex location-based soundworks, within the soundmap you have a lot of other soundmaps, small ones from users, related to themes or places, areas… I just started one yesterday, “Portray of a Little River in Berlin”, so this very site-specific work all goes on the big map, but you can have your own visibility of your project as well. So you can focus only on that work. This is an important tool, there are hundreds of different user pages. Some are only a few spots of interest, and others are more elaborate work like The Hague sound studies by Justin Bennett, he made there this big mapping project which is a complex, not only audio, sound work, in an area where the land is now subject to change, so they made very nice documentation and they used Aporee for that. Because Justin knows the workings, he’s also a contributor. The other thing is called Miniatures for Mobiles, that is a platform where you can use sounds from the soundmap, but you can also make specific maps, to make complex audio works which you can listen out on the streets. Then in order to listen to these pieces, you have to go out. So they are smaller, more or less narrative structures, based on sound.

With GPS?

Yes. I developed it quite early, I started in 2007-8 to make the first app. I learned how to program apps, so I made one for Android phones, then I got in contact with a public radio in Berlin, and they financed then 2, 3 projects with that platform, so I could develop the app a bit further. And this is quite important. Many people use it for, more complex soundworks which are soundwalks and works which are laid out in public space. So this is an interesting tool to make site-specific work, which you have to listen to outside. And if you make the recordings properly, let’s say, binaural, you have the spatiality in the sound itself and you make the recordings, maybe out there, if you use voice or so, you have this very immersive aspect, you feel really in the situation, because you have your eyes as well you can relate to the surroundings, if you make it properly you can really do stunning soundworks for pedestrians out in public space. And many do that. So I used that tool, and the most recent work is based on a streaming radio, that’s where most of my work at the moment flows in, it’s a web radio based on all the sounds on Aporee… So let’s say, if nothing happens elsewhere, it plays a random selection of the sounds. Just as a playlist, randomly ordered. But as soon as listeners go in, it tries in the background to find out where they are from, and it finds them, it defines the listeners, then it goes to the database and tries to find recordings around this actual listener and those are inserted automatically into the program. It’s open for live input as well, there’s a growing community of live location-based radio. You can be a broadcaster even with your phone. Just log in to the radio program from wherever you are. You can use combinations of, let’s say, selections from the soundmap along with your live input… as a DJ would select a record, you can select sounds, you can play that from the archive, but you can bring your presence, with your voice or whatever you do, a walk, performance or so… And this is quite difficult to do, because it is all working in real-time, not as a podcast, but as real-time radio for all users, streaming radio.

So everyone listens to the same thing?

Right. So that the aspect of presence, now, is completely different from the map. The map, everybody listens to one recording and you have no connection to the listening experience of the others, who may be there at the same time. On the radio you get immediate presence and the idea that there are other listeners, this is one of the aspects of radio, that you have this imaginary presence, even if you listen alone. And so I’m playing with that because I think all this noise, let’s say, which you have in social media, it’s not so much about the content, but about presence and being in contact, now. So this idea of being connected which radio transports a little bit, at least in the feeling, if it’s not technologically the case. It’s something I’m playing around with, now. I’m using all these located recordings and using concepts of location and place in a dynamic, constantly recreating and reorganizing radio. You should listen to it, it’s interesting…”

Fernando Silva (Media Culture Student, University of Maastricht) for Musica, Impulse Centre for Music


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