Ambient Environment is a project by Scott Sherk making visible the levels and frequency of our surrounding soundscapes. The project has two components represented by two video monitors.

Monitor One: Silence, 2023, custom OpenGl animation on endless loop, 7 min 22 sec.

Monitor Two: Ambient, 2023, custom live audio visualization programming using Max/MSP/Jitter/OpenGl; microphones, computer, monitor.

The spinning circle displays the frequencies from low (center) to high (outer) and their respective energy. Loud sounds are reflected by higher curves. There is never silence.

Ambient Environment There is never silence

The world has become louder and louder and louder. Since the industrial revolution the repetitive sound of motors vibrating has become an ever increasing part of our consciousness. With the invention and distribution of electricity, the 60 cycle hum of the electric grid began vibrating our world. The drone of airplanes and the steady hum of traffic are such a large part of our everyday, that we are rarely cognizant of how throughly they populate and define our sounding world. In short, a large part of our awareness of the world is consumed by an unconsidered, uncontrolled, random, and overwhelming din!

Henri Lefebvre has argued that space and the places we inhabit are never neutral collections of Cartesian coordinates. All space has a social component and is constructed by the structures of power within which we exist. We generally understand these structures — open space, private space, personal space, safe space, public space, available space, occupied space, social space…

What we don’t grasp, however, is the manner in which soundings can contradict, confuse, and obfuscate our sense of space. Sound exists outside the normal boundaries of the private and the public. The school bus grinding its gears wakes us in the early morning, the gun range a mile away interrupts our afternoon study, the traffic along Rt. 22 shakes our foundations, the whine of the motorcycle invades our inner reflections. An omnipresent low frequency rumble accompanies every aspect of our life.