Place = Space + Time:
A creative exploration into the use of soundscape composition and video imagery for the depiction of place

  • David Holbrook

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This thesis explores soundscape composition and non-fiction filmmaking to represent a sense of place through audiovisual research outputs and a 5.1 multichannel composition. Urban and rural spaces are explored to capture and re-present place artistically. The research is a multi-disciplinary approach taken from areas such as soundscape composition, sound art, Buddhist philosophy, psychology, and documentary film. My interest in Eastern philosophy, in particular, has greatly influenced the theoretical connections concerning environmental experience, and how perception underpins our worldly experience. Recent research into the mind or consciousness has formalised connections and a conceptualisation regarding place, space, and time, aided by Buddhist and eastern philosophy. The unknowable, un-recordable “feeling of a space” is theorised, as I believe it is a contributing factor to the overall experience of the environment. The practical research took place within my hometown of Huddersfield, West Yorkshire, and Newcastle. A snapshot of a place is created through a reiterative process of field recording, soundwalking, and video imagery (fixed camera and drone footage). Whilst on location recording audiovisual data it has become apparent that the environment is in a constant state of flux and there is an ephemeralness to life. This finding is a framework used creatively in multichannel and audiovisual projects to show the impermanent nature of the environment. Buddhist philosophy influenced creative decisions and conceptual understanding of the environment. Soundscape composition is generally audio based without visuals; this concept has been enhanced by placing soundscape composition within the audio-visual domain. Conversely, by using soundscape composition for the soundtracks of my films, the concept of City Symphony composition and documentary filmmaking has been refined and contrasted. The ubiquitous nature of noise within these environments became an essential part of my theoretical research and creative portfolio. Place, space, and moments in time are captured visually and aurally. Soundscape composition and video imagery artistically represent place through research outputs. Place, space, and time are separate concepts; however, concerning a sense of place, they co-exist. Time is the precursor that defines space and place; it ultimately defines our environmental experience. The Huddersfield Lockdown 2020 project is of particular interest due to the data collection happening at an unprecedented moment in time: during the Covid pandemic. A time now preserved and artistically re-presented through sound and image. The Lockdown project no longer belongs to the time it was recorded; it now belongs to the past, present and future.
Date of Award29 Mar 2023
Original languageEnglish
SupervisorGeoff Cox (Main Supervisor) & Monty Adkins (Co-Supervisor)

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