In the Program Design for Performance and Interaction at Bartlett UCL, we once did a research design about the soundscape of the hubbub, which was called Hubbub. We took the restaurant as our research content and focused on the tableware sound which had been ignored by people during our social dining experience. After our sound analysis, we performed the sound of goblets through the form of the hubbub and explored the impact of the sound wave on people’s psychological cognition in this specific environment. We are always influenced by the soundscape atmosphere in the space we live in and we also tend to pay less attention or even ignore it in our life at the same time. Let’s focus on the present.
We are currently experiencing an unprecedented global challenge — COVID-19. When COVID-19 is severely damaging our society and life balance, at the same time, it has given us more time for critical thinking. We put our project under this current situation, to analyze what project Hubbub would be towards COVID-19. We want to enrich the concept and content of Hubbub, adding more dimensions to our soundscape. The essence of the hubbub is a loud noise, especially caused by a lot of people all talking at the same time. The soundscape is an important determinant of our dining experience apart from the food for restaurants. Hubbub is the integration of those sound, which are far and near, loud and soft, discernible, and muffled. Just as there are different sound regions in a city, there will be different hubbub soundscapes in a restaurant. They are quiet, noisy, excited, and subdued. We can even taste food from the soundscapes. Different soundscapes can even be filtered by our brains and translated into a feast of different flavors.
Our project is just about the soundscape atmosphere of those ignored sound. Cities have been defined by the hustle and bustle of itself for a long time. Usually, people create soundscape unconsciously and they are influenced by the soundscape at the same time. Our project reverses priorities, it breaks the concept of sense of time and space and provides users with a multi-dimensional sound experience. We want to know that, as we adapt to new space constraints and the changing sense of time, how should we readjust our auditory sense? How to perceive a specific environment and how to evoke our emotions or memories?
People have lost their social dining experience in these months due to COVID-19. We try to build an online virtual restaurant for people, we plan to collect various sound in the restaurant, process them, combine them, and present to the users through the form of a sound menu. It’s an agency for soundscapes and a celebration of sound ambiance. Users can use headphones, combine any of these fragments according to their preferences, everyone can have a unique restaurant hubbub experience. The user is the architect, composer, and designer of the atmosphere.
The idea of restoring the social dining experience is just a layer of the platform, we hope to guide people to realize the background soundscape in our life through the absence of social experience. We are now standing in a position in contrast to the past world. Not only medical workers, but designers are also being inspired by this social reality. We begin to rethink the way we interact with daily life and we imagine more possibilities. What we do is magnifying the sound that we’ve been ignoring and exploring how those missing sounds affect us. We’re using the method of critical design to think about the role that those preconceived ideas play in our daily lives. We query, we survey and we examine. Have we ever took some hands-down object for granted in our ordinary lives? Have we ever wondered if there is something wrong with those hands-down objects? These absurd reality problems we experience are certainly not part of our dream life, but ideals often cannot be divorced from the structure of reality. Ideals achieve a balance in the conflict with reality, and ideal is a fiction of reality. Design is our way of thinking. We use the means of design to challenge experience, to conceive the intersection of reality and ideal, present and future, rationality, and sensibility.