University of Sussex Students' Newspaper

Sound experiment to take place on West Street

The Badger

ByThe Badger

Nov 1, 2011

One of Brighton’s most popular nightlife spots is to receive something of a makeover in this year’s annual White Night arts festival, taking place on the 29 October.

The project, taking place on West Street, an area known for its reputation for violent and antisocial behaviour, will involve The Council, the Noise Abatement Society, Martyn Ware of Human League fame and Dr Harry Witchel, a body language expert.

An innovative 3d soundscape consisting of two rows of speakers playing ambient music, designed by Martyn Ware of Illustrious Designs, will be placed on the street.

This will be to examine the effects of calming music on those enjoying a night out, providing what the White Night website calls “a contrast to the raucous disharmony”.

Footage of the project will then be broadcast in the Sallis Benney lecture theatre at Brighton University, giving members of the public a chance to observe the effects of this experiment on West Street and whether it results in a decline in anti-social behaviour.

Dr Harry Witchel of the Brighton and Sussex Medical School, author of the book ‘You Are What You Hear’, will be running workshops at the university looking at body language, music and social territory in order to analyse the effects of the experiment.

The project has been named ‘Come Together: West Street Story’ and could form a basis for research nationally if it manages to successfully show that the ambient music calmed people and reduced the likelihood of violent anti-social behaviour.

This installation seems perfect for a festival which has been described by its director Donna Close as “an alternative to the usual drink-focused Saturday night”.

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