Recent Activities

Posted July 16, 2011 by Andrew Czink
Categories: Auditory Experience, Domestic Spaces, Music, Soundscape

This is just a quick notification of a couple of things.

First up: I am a recipient of the 2011 R. Murray Schafer Soundscape Award from the Communications Department at SFU. I’m honoured to receive this acknowledgement of my work in Soundscape Studies and Acoustic Ecology.

Secondly: a Powerpoint summary version of my paper Sounding Interiors is now posted on the SFU Graduate Liberal Studies web site. This is a fleshed out version of my presentation at the recent GLS Joint Western Symposium held last month (see my account of it in the previous post). I’ve added some of my commentary to the slides so that anyone who didn’t see the presentation may actually be able to follow along. I’ve also included a full reference list as well. The full version of the paper is published in the journal Soundscape as noted in a previous post. Mp3 versions of the audio files are posted here on this blog, so please check it out when you have some time. If you search on ‘sounding interiors’ you’ll find everything relevant.

I look forward to comments as always.


GLS Western Symposium 2011 all wrapped up

Posted June 26, 2011 by Andrew Czink
Categories: Aesthetics, Architecture, Art, Auditory Experience, Domestic Spaces, Objectivity, Painting, Perception, Soundscape

This was the 5th Annual GLS Western Symposium, and my first. This time hosted by SFU at the Harbour Centre Campus and the Wosk Centre for Dialogue here in Vancouver. Thirty-four papers were presented in 4 sessions with 3 running in parallel. The twelve sessions in total were broken into loosely themed groups as follows: Classical Studies, Ecology, Lived Environments, Medicine/Science, Literature, Media Studies, Art, Morality, Heroes, Religion, Adaptations and finally Sexuality. Presenters hailed from most, if not all, of the Western region GLS programs including three from Maastricht in the Netherlands.

The spirits were high and everyone seemed immensely motivated and keen to hear the presentations. Q&A sessions were always energetic with well considered comments coming from the attendees. The quality of the sessions was very high in my opinion. I have never had so many presentations engage me, teach me, and importantly, move me as during this exceptional symposium. I highly recommend attending or presenting at one of these sessions! Next year’s Symposium will be hosted by the USC program in Los Angeles. Details will be forthcoming of course.

The Symposium kicked off on Friday evening with a wine and cheese mix and mingle. While not everyone had arrived yet, it was a fine opportunity to meet old GLS friends and make new acquaintances as well.

I presented my recently published paper Sounding Interiors: Daydream, Imagination, and the Auscultation of Domestic Space in the first Saturday morning session. The venue was excellent with even acceptable sound quality in the built-in sound system: this being a constant challenge at Academic Conferences. My presentation was well received and there were numerous excellent comments and thought provoking feedback afterwards.

Let me mention some of the highlights of the conference for me.

My two co-presenters in the Lived Environments session both gave great presentations. Bart Zwegers from Maastricht presented his paper Objectivity and Political Engagement in Heritage Preservation. It was a well considered analysis of the ideology of objectivity and its political role in determining what projects are considered worthy for preservation and appropriate funds.

Jean McIntosh from Stanford presented Pirro Ligorio’s ‘Antiqvae Vrbis Imago’: A Renaissance Reconstruction of the Ancient Roman Cityscape. She delved into the motivation for and pictorial techniques utilized in Ligorio’s ‘Imago.’ For those who haven’t seen this map cum bird’s eye panorama it’s something to be seen. The Imago is an exercise in obsessive compulsive encylopedic excess: think tourist map on steroids. It’s large (around a couple of meters per side) and incredibly intricate throughout. On first glance it is so complex and detailed that it seems almost incomprehensible. Jean McIntosh took us through parts of this incredible work eloquently and brought our attention to the various pictorial techniques Ligorio used to represent the city and its architecture in his unique way. Very engaging!

In the Art session, Nadia Thibault from SFU’s GLS program brought our attention to the powerfully moving drawings and prints by German Expressionist painter Kathe Kollwitz. I’m ashamed to say that I was not aware of this incredible visual artist before Nadia’s excellent presentation. Seeing these images was a transformative experience. She showed a number of incredibly intense images of poverty, war and disadvantage by Kollwitz and tied her practice to influential predecessors and contemporary colleagues. Although the ties to German Expressionist work were clear, so was her distinct vision and representational style. The textural aspect of her work was particularly nuanced and the fleshly-ness of the bodies was tangible: one could almost feel the strength and resilience of these people as if they were bodily present. Incredible work and a thoughtful articulate presentation. If you haven’t seen Kollwitz’s images go find them as soon as you can.

In the same session Oscar Firschein from Stanford presented his work The Pitmen Painters’ England’s Coal-Miner Artists. This is an absolutely extraordinary story about a group of coal minors in northern England during the 1030’s and on, who became painters. The incredible circumstances that led to this, including their major group exhibition in London and a dedicated gallery to their work in Ashington is almost unbelievable. I won’t give a precis of the story here as a play has been written by Lee Hall as has an account of the painters by art critic William Feaver. The images were unique and the story should be made into a film. It would be the feelgood film of the decade.

The Art session was closed by Stanford’s Maura McNamara’s compelling presentation William Morris: The Art of the Book. She guided us through William Morris’ incredible work with the Kelmscott Press and its ties to architecture and design. She seemed to be fairly concerned that making those connections was a bit of a stretch, but her artful and carefully considered presentation made the connections abundantly clear: at least for this attendee! She guided us deftly through great images from the Kelmscott Chaucer. I have had the good fortune of seeing the Kelmscott Chaucer in person and visiting Kelmscott Manor a number of years ago. Maura McNamara’s presentation brought those images flooding back to me and also added a new layer of understanding to my appreciation of William Morris’ work. I did a quick search on the web during the talk and found that had a folio of the first two pages from the Kelmscott Chaucer for sale for a mere €6,572.47! Quick, best get that right away.

While these are my highlights I have to remark on the overall high quality of the presentations I attended, and I’m sure the other parallel streams were also excellent. The energy at the Symposium was palpable and exciting, the presentations were excellent and thought provoking, and the people were as fine a group as I’ve ever met. I am very much looking forward to next year’s Symposium in LA!

The SFU GLS Symposium website has abstracts and presenter biographies already posted, and several of the presentations will also be posted so be sure to check that out over the next week or two as material is added to the site.

Activity Update

Posted April 30, 2011 by Andrew Czink
Categories: Auditory Experience

Hello everyone,

Just a quick update on my recent activities as I haven’t been posting regularly. So busy!

So, most recently I presented my paper Sound Things: The Entanglement of Sound, Space and Self at the 9th Hawaiian International Conference on Arts and Humanities in Honolulu this past January. An excellent humanities conference in a wonderful location: Waikiki in Honolulu. Very nice. Over 600 attendees and a great sense of interest from everyone. I look forward to returning in the future.

I also presented a paper entitled Sound Matters: Mediation, Mimesis and Embodiment in Soundscape Music at the Canada Acoustics Week in Victoria BC last October. A summary version of the paper has been published in the Canadian Acoustics Journal Oct 2010.

My paper Sounding Interiors: Daydream, Imagination and the Auscultation of Domestic Space has also been published in Dec 2010 in Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology. My previous post has links to all of the audio support files for that paper. I’ll be presenting on this on June 25, 2011 at the Graduate Liberal Studies Joint Western Symposium being hosted at SFU Downtown this year.

I will try to post more regularly. Thanks for all of the support and encouragement.


Audio Support Files for Sounding Interiors now online

Posted April 30, 2011 by Andrew Czink
Categories: Architecture, Auditory Experience, Bachelard, Domestic Spaces, House and Home, Imagination, LS819 Domestic Spaces, Music, Soundscape, Subjectivity

Hi all,

Sounding Interiors: Daydream, Imagination and the Auscultation of Domestic Space is now published in a revised form in the current issue of Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology. I have left the original paper up here still, but you can acquire copies of the Soundscape Journal at I am posting the audio support files for the paper here as listed in Appendix 1 of the paper. I’ve prefaced each file with the track number so that you can easily listen in the correct order. I will be presenting the paper and audio examples at the Graduate Liberal Studies Joint Western Symposium at Simon Fraser University on Saturday June 25, 2011 for anyone in the Vancouver area who would like to attend. I look forward to any comments as usual.


T1_Resounding Reverie_mp3 This is the full soundscape composition. Duration 6:36

T2_Feedback_Kitchen_mp3 Original unedited feedback recording made in the kitchen area. Duration 6:31

T3_Feedback_Den_Kitchen_mp3 Original unedited feedback recording made in the den and kitchen. Duration 5:21

T4_Feedback_LR Original unedited feedback recording made in the living room area. Duration 3:08

T5_Mahler_Sym5_Adg_X Excerpt from the Mahler Symphony 5 Adagietto (source info in paper). Duration 1:04

T6_IR_Argue_LR_01 Living room impulse response recording. Duration 0.1 sec. This sounds like a very short click.

T7_Mahler_Sym5_Adg_X*IRLR_01 Convolution series using the Mahler Adagietto excerpt and the Living Room IR. 8 examples each re-convolving the previous example. Duration 1:04 each.








T15_FB_DK_09 Feedback excerpt from the Den/Kitchen Recording. Duration 00:13

T16_Mahler_Sym5_Adg_X*DKFB Mahler Adagietto excerpt convolved with track 15. Duration 1:04

News update, Oct 12, 2009, Thanksgiving Day

Posted October 12, 2009 by Andrew Czink
Categories: Culture, Environment, Nature, Reason

Hello all,

After a bit of a hiatus I will be resuming my journal writing here. Things have been busy. Here’s a quick summary of the highlights.

Presented a revised version of my paper Sound Reasons: Auditory Experience and the Environment at the International Conference for New Directions in the Humanities in Beijing this past June. Both the conference and the city were great experiences. I have made great new friends and colleagues while there. I’ve written a short conference report called Surfing the Disciplines, for those who are interested. It’s available on the excellent Liberal Studies e-journal Coastline about halfway down the page at the following link: While there check out the rest of the journal!

The auditory experience paper has been published as of today in the International Journal of the Humanities! Very exciting news. It’s available on the publisher’s website at The publishing agreement allows me to post it on my own website as well, so here it is: H09_19500_SoundReasons2_final(2)

You’ll find it under the Papers page on the right side of my blog too.

Here is the full citation for the paper:

Czink, Andrew. (2009). Sound Reasons: Auditory Experience and the Environment. The International Journal of the Humanities, 7-6, 59-71.

As always I appreciate any comments you may have.

I will continue my journal posts shortly regarding the readings from a current course in Advanced Topics in the History of Art and Culture being taught by Dr. Denise Oleksijczuk in SFU’s Art and Culture department. This term’s focus is on The Life of Things. Thing theory if you will. What is ‘thingness’ and issues of materiality etc. I’ll post the excellent reading list and my impressions of them fairly soon.

I thank everyone for their ongoing interest and inquiries of course!

On House and Home Part 7, Postscript

Posted December 22, 2008 by Andrew Czink
Categories: Architecture, Domestic Spaces, House and Home, LS819 Domestic Spaces, Rybczynski, Witold

Wrapping up with Rybczynski’s book Home: a Short History of an Idea, continues its concerns with the nature of comfort. “Comfort…has become a mass commodity.” (P. 220) The democratization of comfort has been achieved through the efficiencies of “…mass production and industrialization….” (P. 220) Manufactured goods become accessible to the average citizen through technology, with hand-crafted objects become rare, expensive, and luxurious, in an ironic inversion of the etymology of the term manufacture; to make by hand. 

Rybczynski seems to take a turn in his final chapter. Where throughout most of the book he has remained somewhat objective, reporting on his research more than making judgments, he begins to make some big totalizing claims near the end. He directs us to a particular agenda: “what is needed is a reexamination not of bourgeois styles, but of bourgeois traditions.” (P. 221) Is it? Is this ‘needed’ for all of us or only some? It seems to me that reexamining bourgeois traditions may be fruitful for some but not for others. 

He makes a critique of ‘open plan’ homes as not providing enough privacy and intimacy in the home. He points out that “…not since the Middle Ages have homes offered as little personal privacy to their inhabitants.” (P. 222) Interestingly, his tone in the earlier part of the book discussing the ‘big hall’ of the middle ages implied that we have lost the sense of family and community that the open, common living space provided when we made smaller homes to accommodate the needs of the developing nuclear family. So how then are we to nurture that ‘lost’ sense of family? His argument seems weak and homogenizing; he doesn’t seem to recognize that inhabitants of homes are a diverse group, not easily subject to such homogenizing agendas. He suggests that the needs of the modern home include multiple entertainment systems which the open plan doesn’t allow simultaneous use of. Isn’t this continuing the trend of individuation we’ve seen in society recently? It is apparently rare that families sit down to common meals anymore, and it seems the expectation is that each individual member of the household has the ability to pursue his/her own activities without regard for other family members. Wouldn’t an open plan work to establish a context for family cohesion? Family members would have to co-ordinate their activities so as not to interfere with each other, and perhaps give rise to more occasions for unified family activity. 

It seems to me that the floor plan of a house and the nature of its traditions would be dependent on the inhabitants’ lifestyle, and should be designed accordingly. An open plan is well suited to entertaining. An open plan facilitates family interaction and gatherings. An open plan allows a parent to incorporate and observe toddlers while carrying out household activities. Perhaps Rybczynski needn’t be quite as exclusive about his agenda. Why can’t one have an open plan on one floor of their house and smaller rooms appropriate for intimacy and privacy on other floors? It seems that there are solutions that Rybczynski doesn’t consider. 

His exclusive position continues in his comments about utility and aesthetics. He states that a chair should be comfortable and not make and artistic statement. Why could a chair not accomplish both? He says that we should return “…to the idea of furniture as practical rather than aesthetic…” (P. 222) Again, why not both? Why the valorization of use-value? Why the devaluation of the aesthetic? I would suggest that what we need is a more inclusive notion of what may be considered homely and comfortable and that there is no homogenous conception of these. The idea of home and of comfort are situated and contingent upon the cultural and historical context of the inhabitants. Let’s encourage people to develop their homes in ways that suite them best. Isn’t that really what we’ve always attempted to do anyway?

Virginia Woolf’s Between the Acts

Posted December 22, 2008 by Andrew Czink
Categories: Culture, Domestic Spaces, House and Home, LS819 Domestic Spaces, Woolf, Virginia

Set shortly before the onset of WWII in 1939, Between the Acts takes the domesticity of the home and extends it to include the village, the country, and the present. Woolf’s home is a multisensorial one: her descriptions are not restricted to the visual. She seems to have a sense of the many aspects of home. Both the Bachelardian daydream and Freud’s uncanny are present throughout the the novel. 

Comments of comfort, security and domesticity identify areas of the home of significance to Woolf’s characters. 

A foolish flattering lady, pausing on the threshold of what she once called “the heart of the house,” the threshold of the library, had once said: “Next to the kitchen, the library’s always the nicest room in the house.” Then she added, stepping across the threshold: “Books are the mirror of the soul.” (P. 12)

The library as a place of contemplation and reverie through reading. The kitchen as center of the household. Woolf refers to kitchen noises echoing throughout the house, signaling to everyone by the increasing density of the sounds emanating from it that a meal is approaching. 

References to auditory events pervade the novel. The clock ticking in the house is a constant reminder of the passage of time. The silence and emptiness of empty rooms evokes a stillness and refers to a possible era before humans inhabited the earth. 

Empty, empty, empty; silent, silent, silent. The room was a shell,singing of what was before time was; a vase stood in the heart of the house, alabaster, smooth, cold, holding the still, distilled essence of emptiness, silence. (P. 26)

Silence, of course, doesn’t exist: the clock is always ticking. Silence belongs to mute objects, to the visual world, the world of stasis. Sounds are always dynamic and are always events. Sound cannot be static. While the view from the house is mute and static, the activities in the house are full of life, as is the pageant.  

The uncanny is present by the ‘invasion’ of the house by strangers arriving for the pageant. “The family was not a family in the presence of strangers.” (P. 34) While this statement is referring to arriving local visitors, it seems suggestive also, of the potential invasion of the German air force in the pending war. The formation of war planes makes this manifest with the roar of the engines making it impossible to ignore. “The future disturbing our present.” (P. 57) The ongoing march of time, history in the making, the inexorable forces of nature and culture uproot and transform the characters’ lives. What is home may change through outside forces: “…dispersed are we…” (P. 66) The home, the family unit, the village, and the country may be dispersed at any moment: is in fact dispersed continually through the cycle of birth and death, through immigration and emigration. Change is constant and is an affront to the familiarity of home. Stability and stasis may be desired, but only as an abstract utopian dream. “…Change had to come, unless things were perfect; in which case she supposed they resisted Time. Heaven was changeless.” (P. 118) Stasis equals death, yet change disrupts the homely. The opposing forces may reach a deadlock. How to act? How to choose? What to do? What to do next?