WFAE President’s Report by Eric Leonardson
Welcome to the Spring 2014 WFAE Newsletter. This quarterly supplement to our annual print journal, Soundscape: The Journal for Acoustic Ecology provides timely information on opportunities and events to and from our network of associated Affiliate Organizations around the world.
Two important WFAE-endorsed conferences will take place in 2014. More are likely to be added as the wave of interest in sound increases. Sound In the Land happens June 5-9 at the University of Waterloo, in Ontario, Canada. Invisible Places | Sounding Cities symposium on sound, urbanism, and sense of place, happens in Viseu, Portugal on July 18-20. The submission deadline for Invisible Places | Sounding Cities has been extended to March 31.
As this report is published before I return from the Urban Soundscapes and Critical Citizenship conference at the University Of Limerick, perhaps my next report will contain information about this meeting.
Over the past year and a half in my role as WFAE President I have worked to keep our global membership together and increase its size reach. Regrettably, my efforts have not all been successful. In June 2013, the WFAE's German/Italian/Swiss affiliate, the Forum Klanglandschaft, held its Annual General Meeting at which it was discussed and voted upon to "suspend" its membership as a WFAE Affiliate Organization.
The WFAE Board is comprised of elected representatives of the WFAE's nine (now eight) Affiliate Organizations. We received an official letter from the FKL outlining its decision to suspend association based on its perception of WFAE Board actions over time as "working against the interests" of the FKL and being disadvantageous to their remaining a currently active organization within the World Forum for Acoustic Ecology.
Given that the WFAE has no provision for an organization to suspend itself, the Affiliate Representatives, who are the voting members of the WFAE, expressed their understanding that an Affiliate group is either participating, or not. A Board vote on accepting the FKL's suspended status was unanimously defeated and I am sad to report that the FKL is currently not a participating group within the WFAE.
The WFAE Board regrets this development and encourages the FKL to reconsider its disaffiliation at its 2015 AGM meeting. Now, the WFAE has eight Affiliate Organizations. These are in Finland, Japan, Greece, United Kingdom, United States, Mexico, Australia, and Canada.
Happily, we hope to gain a new Portuguese WFAE affiliate group. Along with WFAE member at-large, Raquel Castro and members from both the American Society for Acoustic Ecology and UK/Ireland Sound Collective, I am busy helping with the Invisible Places | Sounding Cities symposium. It would be wonderful if all of you could come and participate. I will be there. The symposium happens July 18-20 in the charming city of Viseu. Please visit the website for more information
The symposium has the full support of the city of Viseu, Binaural/Nodar, and other organizations in Portugal, taking place within the annual Jardins Efémeros (Ephemeral Gardens) arts festival. Alongside keynotes, workshops, and performances concerning sound, urbanism, and place, a meeting between artists and Portuguese researchers will be held with representatives of the WFAE in order to create the Portuguese Society for Acoustic Ecology.
March 15th was also the deadline for submission to the other WFAE endorsed conference, Sound In the Land at Waterloo University, Ontario, Canada on June 5-8. I also plan to attend this event and encourage all, and especially those here in North America to attend.
I'm looking forward to presenting at the Urban Soundscapes and Critical Citizenship conference at the University of Limerick March 27–29. This is not a WFAE endorsed conference, though several WFAE members will be present. My paper titled "Our Sonic Playground: A Model For Active Engagement in Urban Soundscape," focuses on an event I organized last October with Midwest Society for Acoustic Ecology members, SAIC faculty, local artists, and students at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Chicago.
WFAE Secretary and ASAE member Gary Ferrington announced last December that he would retire from this post at the end of 2014. This is a very important development because Gary has been instrumental in establishing, building, maintaining, editing, and publishing the WFAE's online presence since it started in the 90s. We need a plan to fill his post and carry with all the critical tasks to which he has devotedly fulfilled. We need a member with talent, skills, and time who can pay careful attention to details. Are you the next WFAE Secretary?
The 2013 issue of Soundscape: The Journal for Acoustic Ecology is due out soon. Phylis Johnson, our Editor-In-Chief is working hard on finding a printer and distribution. As mentioned in my previous report, this issue is guest edited by Makis Solomos and Kostas Paparrigopoulos, the co-organizers of last year's “Music and Ecologies of Sound Symposium” at Université Paris 8, Saint-Denis.
Thankfully, for the journal, even with the loss of the FKL, and thanks to contributions from Université Paris 8 and one anonymous donor, the WFAE will be able to print and mail the 2013 issue, with some funds leftover for the 2014 issue.
Looking ahead, I plan on working closely with our two Vice Presidents, Noora Vikman and Meri Kytö, and members from our affiliates on building partnerships with organizations concerned with sound in the environment, including a course in acoustic ecology and communication.
Announcements about the upcoming conferences will be made in the programs of Sound In the Land and Invisible Places, along with the WFAE’s Acoustic Ecology discussion list and the WFAE Facebook Page. I hope our affiliate groups will spread the word and that I will be able to welcome and connect with you, including my friends and colleagues in the FKL, in Waterloo and Viseu.
18-24 JULY: INVISIBLE PLACES - SOUNDING CITIES (Sound, Urbanism and Sense of Place) Viseu, Portugal. Often acoustic space is ignored in the construction of a public space, yet the negative impact this has does not seem to get many complaints. People rarely require more quality of the sonic world, because the average consumer does not have the necessary references to change this state of affairs. We know that the prevalence of noise or sounds that do not convey any social significance and are a disturbance of the quality of life, reduces the ability to identify with the place we inhabit. It is therefore urgent to think about the acoustical problems societies are facing today and integrate that thinking in urban planning, architecture and management of public space, because the idea we have of ourselves, our personal awareness and the relationships we build in the external world, are inextricably linked to a space. We all exist somewhere. And personal identity also relates to this. More
Header Photo: "Quiet City" is a photograph of the Portland, Oregon waterfront by Gary Ferrington, WFAE Secretary.