Azadeh Nichiani – Commutators and urban sonic spaces [EN]

The notion of commutators – as introduced by Paul Claval (1999) in the field of urban geography – outlines the contours of social interactions in the context of the city. The commutator plays a crucial role in the organizational vision of urban space in that, it ensures connections and provide the possibility of crossing territories. The interconnections of beings within the shared urban environment come partially from their ability to move and cross places. The urban commutators enable “multiple connection structures”, to quote Abraham Moles. But most urban commutators of our time such as train stations and airports have their own conditions and limits. Airports and train stations as urban commutators are in charge of connecting spaces much larger than their territorial expanses and beyond their geographic location. The sonic dimension of these places has been the subject of much reflection and site specific sound pieces. The famous jingle by Bernard Parmegiani (1969) for Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport, lasting just 3 seconds, describes the commutator status of this airport. The sound installation Study for Strings, by Susan Philipsz as part of Documenta 13 (2012), was located in Kassel Hauptbahnhof as an urban commutator. Philipsz’s piece alludes both to the memory of the place as well as the human beings crossing this central station, which provided mission-critical connections in rail transport during the Second World War. This paper sets out to analyze the role of urban commutators in their sonic dimensions by focusing on site specific sound creations. Azadeh Nilchiani is an artist and a Ph.D. fellow in laboratory LISAA at the Université Paris-Est Marne-la-Vallée. Her artwork is based on interdisciplinary connections between the visual mediums, sound and space, specifically by installation and video art. She holds a Diploma in sculpture, University of Tehran, Faculty of Fine Arts (2003) then in Space-Art from the Ecole Nationale Supérieure des Arts Decoratifs of Paris (2007), Diploma in Sound Art and Electroacoustic Composition from the Pantin National School of Music (2009) and Masters degree in Art, Music, and Media at the University Paris-Est (2010). She has been a research associate at Bibliothèque nationale de France on archives of Institut international de musique électroacoustique de Bourges (IMEB) 2016-2019. She is a Temporary research and teaching assistants (ATER) at The University of Lille, in music and musicology since October 2019.

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