Soundscape for an installation at Fiavé Pile Dwelling Museum
This project involved the composition of a soundscape for a video about the prehistorical dwelling in the area of Fiavé, a small municipality in Northeastern Italy with a rich cultural tradition. The remains of the settlement, that is part of the prehistoric pile dwellings around the Alps UNESCO World Heritage Site, were recently incorporated into a newly renovated museum under the supervision of Franco Marzatico, Chief of the Trentino Cultural Heritage Directorate. Quite interestingly, Marzatico’s commitment to the archaeological site in Fiavé had already started during his teens, when he joined the archaeological excavations as a 14-year-old volunteer. The inauguration of the museum, that was delayed due to the pandemic, finally took place on 26 June, 2021.
Alessandra Atzori and Milena Tipaldo of Mira Video made the video for film production company Filmwork. Different kinds of sound were synchronised at a later stage: Foley sounds to accompany human actions and natural events (so cleverly designed by the two artists), a realistic soundscape to reproduce (or better: imagine) the environment, and a musical soundscape to suggest a certain mood.
Here’s an excerpt of the 9 minute video that is conceived as a loop, to represent a cyclical conception of natural phenomena:
You might notice the unusual format of the video, which is approximately 5×1. In fact, the film is shown inside one of the pile-dwelling huts and takes up the space between two opposite corners. The sound mix, conceived specifically for this particular environment, is in three channels. The stereo mix (L-R) is on the foreground and contains most of the sounds, including Foley and music. Behind the screen there is another speaker for the third channel (B). More precisely, an amplifier conveys a dual-mono signal and sends it as a mono signal to the back speaker. In a way, you may call it a variation of the most common triphonic sound system (L, R and C). The back speaker mainly reproduces environmental sound effects and is used to convey the sensation of immersion in a deeper environment. For this purpose, the back signal has also been filtered with less bass frequencies.
The reconstruction of a soundscape is, of course, a work of imagination, which only rather recently has become matter of academic study for so called archaeoacoustics. What fascinates me is particularly how visual and sound arts can be used side by side with the most common tools of historical research to reconstruct the past. In fact, one of the purposes of art can be, at the cognitive level, to offer a more vivid and complete rendition of a place in time. Also, at the affective level, it can give a feeling of what it meant to be living in a particular place at a particular time.