Virtual Design Festival

Yuri Suzuki presents Sound of the Earth: Pandemic Chapter on VDF

Sound artist and designer Yuri Suzuki is sharing his Sound of the Earth: Pandemic Chapter project, which contains crowdsourced sounds of the pandemic from all over the world, as part of Virtual Design Festival.

The online Pandemic Chapter lets people experience – and submit – everyday sounds from around the world during the coronavirus lockdown.

A snatch of a song, a cough, disembodied voices and someone playing piano are just a few of the sounds that can be discovered when users move the cursor over a floating globe, where each glowing dot represents a sound from that location.

Yuri Suzuki is sharing his Sound of the Earth: Pandemic Chapter project as part of VDF

"The reason why I am working on sound projects is that I believe sound is one of the most powerful tools for communication," Suzuki told Dezeen.

"And connectivity with other people and the world is my continuous interest, such as starting Sound of the Earth from my own collection of sounds, which I recorded with my phone when I travel."

The Pandemic Chapter had 500 submissions in its first week, with recordings including everything from landscape sounds to domestic sounds and music recordings.

Suzuki finds its difficult to choose a favourite sound.

"[I like] very domestic sounds such as cutlery sounds, walking sounds and so on," he said. "They sound very anonymous, but I can think of many stories from the sounds."

Yuri Suzuki's crowdsourced Sound of the Earth: The Pandemic Chapter
Users can listen to crowd-sourced sounds from pandemic on the Pandemic Chapter website

"When I talked with the famous Japanese poet Shuntaro Tanikawa, he loves listening to wide-range reception radio to able to feel he is a part of this large world," Suzuki said.

"My intention for this project is similar. At quarantine time we cannot even go out from room or house, and have totally lost connectivity with our world," the designer continued.

"This project is all about letting you feel that you are part of this world, and you can also send a message and share it with others."

The Pandemic Chapter is a continuation of the designer's Sound of the Earth: Chapter 2, a spherical sculpture shown at the Dallas Museum of Art that let users experience crowdsourced sounds by placing their ear against it.

When the exhibition it was in, Speechless: Different by design, was shut down as a result of the coronavirus outbreak, Suzuki conceived of the Pandemic Chapter for the project to virtually live on.

"Sound of the Earth: The Pandemic Chapter started as a digital iteration of the work Yuri created for our exhibition speechless: different by design," said Sarah Schleuning, interim chief curator at Decorative Arts at the museum.

"It now stands as its own work of art, and both pieces reflect Yuri's ongoing vision to use sound as a global connector," she told Dezeen.

Suzuki's previous projects include an anti-Brexit acid house album and reimagining a sixty-year old electronic sequencer using AI software.