In the noise of a city, peace and quiet can be hard to find. Australian composer and sound artist Jason Sweeney has a solution — Stereopublic, a free smartphone app that lets users geo-locate and share their favorite tranquil city spaces.
This week, in advance of TEDGlobal 2013, Stereopublic has launched a custom Edinburgh version of the app — making it the first city in Europe to be charted. This City 2.0 award-winning app made its way to Scotland with the help of Sweeney’s partners, UK-based sound artist Emma Quayle and frequent TED speaker Julian Treasure.
Quayle and her team have been busy charting the quiet crooks and bends of Edinburgh. She describes how it works: “You have a map of the city that locates you using Google Maps,” she says. “You select your spot and take a 30-second recording and picture so people know where it is. You can choose a mood that reflects how you’re feeling in a space, request whether you want it to be a quiet space, or whether you want someone to create a sound composition for it.”
On top of raising awareness of the importance of noiseless zones, Stereopublic’s quiet riot also inspires healthier communities. Stereopublic describes the platform as “a sonic health service for built environments,” and suggests that quiet and solace, paradoxically, actually create more vital communities.
Julian Treasure: The 4 ways sound affects usUnpleasant noise triggers the release of stress hormones and also brings other physiological reactions in the body. So Treasure, who gave the TED2009 talk “The 4 Ways Sounds Affects Us,” likens quiet mapping to an act of public service and describes Stereopublic as “the citizen journalism of sound.” He says, “If we can mobilize people to record quiet spots in cities, we can protect them from the harmful effects of noise.”
This month, Stereopublic’s self-proclaimed “earwitnesses” are fostering mindfulness about the power of sonic peace across the globe, activating metropolitan soundscapes in Sheffield for Doc/Fest and Sydney for the International Symposium for Electronic Art.
Are you on a quest for quiet? Sweeney wants city dwellers to join his “quiet revolution” by working with Stereopublic to activate their own cities. To get involved, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
And for TEDGlobal attendees, Edinburgh residents, and other folks living in quiet-mapped cities, go to the iTunes store to download the free Stereopublic app.