Sound Lab

Of heard places and listening carefully

How to listen

by Kerstin Ergenzinger, artist


  • a note- or sketchbook, paper block or sheets and a pen.
  • for a possible further step an audio recording device, a digital audio recorder, if available, or a smartphone, with dictation/recording function. (For outdoor shots, you can make a makeshift windbreak out of a fuzzy hat or similar fabric).


Look for at least three different locations and note down the time and place.
Possibly take a documentary photo for the “archive”.

Possible locations:

  • the place where you currently spend the most time.
  • a relatively closed interior space.
  • a passage space.
  • an outdoor space.
  • a closed space outdoors.
  • a partially limited space in an outdoor area.
  • a passage/transition space in an outdoor area.
  • a wide and open outdoor space.
  • …or whatever comes to your mind.

*Listen as carefully as possible to everything you perceive for about five minutes in each place. Write down what you hear: individual noises, sounds, events. Set a clock for yourself. Anything is possible.

*Examine, divide and categorize your list according to different aspects:

Which sounds were made by humans (H)?
Which technologically (T)?
Which naturally (N)?

Then put an (X) after each sound that was produced by yourself. Were most of the sounds produced by you or by others?

Were there sounds that could be heard continuously? (C), sounds that were repeated (R)? Sounds that you only heard once? (O)

Note for yourself what or if something strikes you in this process, is difficult, is easy….

Take a new paper/page and arrange the list differently. For example, choose the top for loud and the bottom for quiet and sort your sounds accordingly.

Change the sorting again, this time the top for I like and the bottom I don’t like.

Ask yourself again, what or if something strikes you in this process, if something is difficult, easy…

Compare for yourself the different collections and ratings of the different places you’ve listened to.
Write down what you notice.


If you like, listen carefully to the chosen places for a second time. Have they changed acoustically?


One step further:

Do you want to capture what you’ve heard, hold on to it, hear it again?
If so, what and why?
How would you try that?

Try recording such a sound using your smartphone or an audio recorder.
How does the result feel?


If you like, you can now also search for different traffic routes (roads, railroads, airways) in your area. Locate social and economic hubs in the public space. Find other infrastructures in the public space and listen to them.

Heard places

21.04.20 Luxemburg

21.04.20 Düsseldorf, Altstadt

17.04.20 Düsseldorf, Bilk

17.04.20 Berlin, Ecke Friedrichstraße/Französische Straße