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4D II Proj 2 – Soundscape/ Sonic Portrait

Soundclip here


Artist Statement

My father works as a taxi driver. He stays in his taxi for at least 12 hours a day, 15 years, almost everyday.
I would like people to picture how taxi drivers like my father, work in their small driver seats and spend their days on the roads, and occasionally conversing with few passengers. He would sometimes have meals together with his colleagues in the same taxi company. But his life revolves very much around his taxi job after sending my siblings to school and my mother to work.
Main idea – With sounds, imagine space, time & experience
Why did I work on father? 
I want my works to have a little bit of myself, of my family. As I grow to an adult, they grow old. I want to always remember how they were like to me, I want them to see for themselves what influence they have made to me, how they are a part of me, through my work. In the previous semester, I worked with my mother in mind for 4D I Proj 2. And, it is time for my father, whom i am similar to in personality, yet we don’t connect as much. I hope to show that I appreciate them as they are involved in my production. Specifically to this project, I want to show appreciation in the sacrifice my father has done for the family.

Concept Development

Initial brainstorming

(trying different perspectives) 
  • My friend’s dog
  • My grandmother who stays at home all day
  • My father
  • My neighbour
  • Soundscape of my trip around the neighbourhood



recorder in the car (footsteps nearing the car)
opening the door
turning on the engine
setting up for work
seat belt on
driving off & on the roads
sounds of motor vehicles passing by
wind while winding down of windows
sound of money transaction (notes & coins)
driving (fade out)
engine off
birds chirping
cricket sounds
returning home
“hi daddy”


I didn’t have to interview or do much research on the taxi-driver occupation. It is something I am already familiar with, I grew up with the car, and there are times when it is silent in the car and I pay attention to the environmental and mechanical sounds. With these familiar sounds, I formed an idea in my head – Journey.


Film/Artist references

Gentle Bones – Shifting Over

Reference from a music video!
(Okay, honestly my ambition is to shoot music videos so I find a lot of inspiration and reference from MVs)

  • How the engine starts off
  • How it includes the sounds of the vehicle + environment
  • Imagining space and journey with sounds


The greatest difficulty of producing this sound clip is that I currently live in hall and I rarely spend time with my father and my family. It is challenging to find time for the both of us to obtain recordings of my father in the car, when he goes to work and when he ends work, considering the fact that as I process the audio I do not have the time to re-record if it fails. So, I could only work with the separately recorded sounds then mix and arrange them to make it flow as best as possible.

Another slight challenge would be using sounds to tell time (how the story flows). For example, how to tell that my dad has been driving all day… Then, I remembered to include sounds of birds chirping in the day, and the cricket sounds at night, as well as fading out to drag.




The vibrating ruler pushes the molecules in the air, making them bunch together. As the ruler vibrates back and forth it makes waves of molecules pushed together (pressure waves). The molecules transmit these pressure waves through the air into our ear, where they are converted to electrical signals that get sent to our brain.
When the ruler is longer it vibrates more slowly, so pushes molecules together less often, so the waves of molecules are further apart – the frequency of sound waves are lower. Lower frequency waves have a lower pitch.
When the ruler is shorter it vibrates more quickly, so makes higher frequency pressure waves, which have a higher pitch.



(video – varying width & thickness)


(video – varying length)



Deriving the concept of how different lengths and thickness of material can produce sounds in different notes, I picked soft wood as my main material.

The point of using only 1 material, is to highlight on how simply by varying the certain conditions of the same material, it can produce sounds of different notes and layers! 🙂

Another material used is the marble. It is interesting as it creates a special sound together with the soft wood. 



An enveloped structure (similar to 20 sided dice/ virus cell wall)
Ms Cheryl’s chicken feeding toy
Chinese yo-yo

Egg Shaker



Creating unique pieces in varying sizes (length & thickness) and then assembling each of them together. They must be closely pieced so that the marble would not fall out! yell


Finally trimming pieces and adding the marble in, before sealing the piece. Would be horrible news if I forgot to put the marble and sealed it first… 

The original idea ended here, but EUREKA. The sound invoked an idea – chinese yoyo!


The sticks and strings were then added to include entertainment value to the piece.


TADA my finishing piece! 


Continue reading





Pleasant sound: Heartbeat

Hi guys, yes the audio above is truly the recorded sound of my heartbeat. smile I danced to increase my heartrate, then I placed my phone at my chest to record the sound of my heart beating. It has been digitally enhanced to amplify the sound slightly. 


Not tryna be philosophical but I think life is AMAZING. Also, the sound of my heart beating can not only be heard but also felt!!!!! from skin, from touch. surprised Hearing the beat of my heart, or my loved ones’ is extremely calming as it just reminds me how lovely it is that we are still here and alive LOL.


Represented by LOVELY PINK STRING.

To represent this sound because HEARTSTRINGS!! Pink to highlight the light mood of the favourable pleasant sound and the varying sizes of balls formed by twirling strings symbolises the impact of the sound. The heart pounding gives a visual image in my brain of a ball bouncing, which is why I designed such a construction! The varying sizes suggests the varying impact of the sound, although we may expect heartbeat to be rhythmic.



The voids and the suspension of the ‘beads’ are interestingly placed.


Unpleasant sound: Snoring

This is an unpleasant sound for me as having to sleep with someone who snores is simply terrible. This was in the past, when I was young with my siblings, we all used to sleep together with my parents in the same room. The purpose then was to make sure my parents could attend to us readily in case we need them in the night. I already have trouble falling asleep, so the addition of my dad’s loud snores only makes it worse ): Sometimes I got so annoyed that I had to wake my dad up to stop the snoring.







When I just listened to the sound, I visualised a very normal dark night, but the sounds ‘hit’ like thunder. They just sounded loud and disruptive. Therefore, I decided to come up with an uneven and ‘piercing’ soundscape.

It means to have a very uneven surface with sharp ridges emerging from a plain surface, yet somehow it has patterns in the heights, rhythmic like snoring. The grainy texture of the construction paper suggests the quality of sleep :/ and also the certain really soft ‘white noise’ or sounds from the environment which contribute to my whole sense of hearing!

Here are the photos documenting my work-in-progress:

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The idea of paper pop-ups came to me when I chanced upon this video post of wonderful paper pop-up sculptures, on Facebook by Peter Dahmen so the link’s below if you would like to check it out!
(I mean it is not as decorative as his, but the concept is similar…)

I decided to adopt this idea and I chose black paper to represent late night and the visual of the dark room in which I was supposed to be sleeping. The pop-ups form ‘Z’ and it symbolises ‘zzz’ which means sleep 🙂

Most importantly, they are designed with abrupt pop ups to show the thunderous and loud snores that disrupt my night ):<



Peter Dahmen