Aifoon is an educational arts organization that focuses on listening and sound in its research on silence.
In 2003 we asked primary school children: ‘How do you experience the road from home to school?’ and we challenged them to render this experience by means of sound recordings and compositions. Since then Aifoon has worked with a diverse range of target groups at school, in leisure time and in an artistic context. Today, our portfolio counts about two-hundred in-depth workshops and activities in and outside of Flanders.
When we speak about ‘Sound’, this does not refer to music or voice, but to recorded sounds that have been defined and/or manipulated by the participants themselves. Sounds are more than just vibrations; they carry content (feelings, intentions…). During every workshop our goal is to hand participants the tools to express nonverbally, by means of sounds how they experience the world.
Conceptually, Aifoon works as an open and creative laboratory that takes silence as its starting point. A “relative” silence to which the participant can add sounds, register and structure them in an intuitive and poetical way. While participants engage in this activity, Aifoon makes them aware of their surroundings, of different ways of listening, of the musicality that sounds carry within them and can induce in combination with other sounds. By making silence spatial, we offer each person the (dis)comfort and possibility to experiment and improvise, a blank page on which they can determine themselves, free from trends and conventions, to communicate about their experience.
Aifoon’s activities has several aspects, which blend into each other:
Sound observation: We practice keeping our ears wide open, listening attitudes and the confrontation and analysis of the everyday acoustic ecology surrounding us. Examples are sound walks, drawing sounds, listening to photographs.
Sound recording: Participants get to work with various sounds stemming from their immediate surroundings. These sounds are either incited by means of objects found in these surroundings or they are simply part of the surroundings. During some workshops we experiment with types of microphones (underwater or shotgun microphones), playback systems (an mp3 player’s earphones versus a ghetto blaster, modified or not) or sound synthesis. An example of the latter is the generation of sounds by means of synthesizers or causing short-circuits in an open electrical circuit, such as a crackle box.
Sound composition: creating sounds and structuring them into compositions can take place as a group by means of graphic scores or as a classroom soundscape made with one microphone. Aifoon’s main focus, however, is individual expression: every participant expresses his- or herself in a personal soundscape, using a computer and sound software.
Sharing: the results of our workshops continue to resonate throughout our website, the expositions and events we organize in cooperation with arts centres, and also in The City Rings, the international exchange project for which partner countries remix each other’s sounds.