“web doc puts noise pollution in perspective: Sonic trash or treasure?”
It’s hard for us to all agree on what sounds good. “Montreal must manage its ‘sonic trash”, reads a slogan that unites the Saint-Lambert Citizens Against Noise Pollution. The suburban group opposes the not-always-dulcet tones that emanate all summer from Parc Jean-Drapeau, home to the thunderous roar of F1 racing and the heartbeat of festival life in Montreal.
“Cities are the most polluted soundscapes, and this raises public health issues. Urban soundscapes are also diverse, lively and stimulating,” says Hugues Sweeney, a director and advisor for Écologie sonore, a new French-language web documentary by the NFB that exposes the scale of noise pollution, explores many perspectives on it and invites us to fine-tune our senses.
“There are no regulations at the provincial or national level around sound pollution, only municipal laws that prohibit rowdiness after 11 p.m. and ban clubs from being situated in proximity to residents,” says Sweeney.
The interactive website, made by a formidable team that includes artistic director Nicolas Saint-Cyr, sound designer Freeworm (Vincent Letellier of The National Parcs), videographer Alexandra Guité and environmental researcher Mathieu Régnier, takes visitors on an immersive tour of four soundscapes – city, suburb, nature and, finally, hermitage.
“We live in an image-driven culture, but sound and music make up our identities. Sound is emotive: It’s language, and forms our identity. This project was a way to discuss and make public this topic – a pretext for a social discussion around sound and noise pollution.”
It also explains why this online project aims to refine how we listen. Take this “ear clearing” exercise, as Sweeney calls it, for an example:
“Leave your home. Stand still for five minutes. Listen. Then, on sheet of paper, write down everything you heard. Our soundscape is one of the best descriptors of our time, place and culture.”
via Hour Community