Rob Stone – Auditions: Architecture and Aurality


The MIT Press, ISBN-13: 978-0262028868, English,, 256 pages, 2015, USA

We can easily relate to spaces that make sound audible within architecture and form. It’s a perfect relationship between the apparent stillness of architectural structures and the ephemeral movement of sound flowing within them before then disappearing, similar to the relationship between water and the riverbed in a river. In this book Stone goes beyond this recognised “spatial” interdependence, and starts to consider sound perception as an organic system influenced not only by structures, but also by apparently unrelated gestures, symbols, social and aesthetic values. Each chapter is an excursion in extended “moments”, that considers and documents, through artworks of very different kinds, themes like the meaning of water in architecture (with elements taken from “The Swimmer” and “L’Atalante” movies), the mediating role of conductors’ hairstyles during orchestra performances and the “custodianship” of historical record stores like Gramex, in London. “Acoustics” here is hidden in between the lines. In fact, the author’s memory and his “imaginary” (often revealed as a shared, collective imaginary) frequently suggests some “conceptual acoustics” deriving from the architecture described and the persons acting there, but without even mentioning them. The book can be read almost as an abstract personal account, but one able to position sound as an unsuspected agent helping the investigation of how space and its agency can be substantially redefined.