Curating milieux (2010)

Harvey, L. 2010, ‘Curating milieux’, in The Curator in the Academy, Australian Scholarly Publishing, North Melbourne, Australia, pp. 32-50 ISBN: 9781921875137.

Opening excerpt

The milieu and the standing patterns of behaviour, through the synomorphy that weds them, form the nal environmental unit. e designer does not design the environmental unit, only its milieu. His in uence is limited to that which his milieu, through synomorphy, contributes to the nal standing-patterns-of-behaviour-and-milieu unit. (Gump, 1971, p. 132) 

In his 1971 article in Landscape Architecture, Gump describes how behaviour- setting theory may be useful for designers. After rst presenting the main components of the theory, he posits that it “may be useful in delineating the place of [designers’] e orts in relation to the human environments which actually become established. e designer develops milieu…” (Gump, 1971, p. 132). Gump goes on to say that the degree of in uence the designer has on the nal standing-pattern-of-behaviour-and-milieu-unit, is limited by the contribution made by the milieu he (or she) designs. e designer rst asks, “What goes on here?” (Gump, 1971, p. 134). 

 My position is that the practice of spatial sound design and spatial sound curation, are to establish an auditory milieu that provokes aural attention – listening. To brie y invoke the information theory distinctions of signal and noise, the presence of sound design is to enhance or increase the signal, the auditory information for the listener. It is not purely about the measurable or audio recordable components of an acoustic environment. e listener’s answer to “What goes on here?” is as much a determinant as the measurable audio signal itself. Cultural audiences in di erent settings have di erent modes of auditory reception. A concert is a distinctly di erent setting to an interactive installation; a site-of-respite in an urban setting di ers from a gallery installation, a multi-channel soundscape system is di erent to a concert. Yet the potential signi cance of these milieux is not their inherent di erences, but the possible links between them. e question arises: what could be the circuits of auditory information that are operating between milieux in an urban environment?

Gump, P. V. (1971). e Behaviour Setting : A Promising Unit for Environmental Designers. Landscape Architecture, 61, January, 1971, 130- 134. 

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