The Past Has Ears (PHE)

Lead Research Organisation: University of York
Department Name: Electronics

Abstract

When we think about great architectural achievements in European history, such as ancient amphitheatres or gothic cathedrals, their importance is strongly tied to their acoustic environment. The acoustics of a heritage site is an intangible consequence of the space's tangible construction and furnishings. It is ephemeral, while also a concrete result of the physical nature of the environment. Through the "Past Has Ears" project (the PHE project), we will explore how via measurements, research, and virtual reconstructions the acoustics of heritage spaces can be documented, reconstructed, and experienced for spaces both existing and in various altered states.

Inspired by the project's namesake (Phe', for the constellation Phoenix), and the relatively recent fires at Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris (2019) and Teatro La Fenice opera hall (1996, also meaning Phoenix), the PHE project focuses on the preservation, conservation, and reconstruction of heritage sites, bringing them back from the ashes for use by researchers, stake holders, cultural institutions, and the general public.

Comprising research teams with experience in acoustic reconstructions and historical research, paired with national heritage monuments of acoustic importance, the consortium will develop a joint methodology for addressing relevant archaeological acoustics issues across Europe with historians of different disciplines. Specialists in tangible/intangible cultural heritage legal issues ensure the viability and longevity of the methodology guidelines. The consortium will prototype next generation exploration tools for presenting digital acoustic reconstructions to scientists and museum visitors alike. Results will be evaluated with associated test heritage sites, created in partnership with stakeholders and experienced content producers. Presentation methods provide first-person in-situ or off- site explorations, with the ability to experience various historical periods. For deteriorated sites, this approach provides access to situations impossible to experience on-site. Additional uses include participative experiences, employing real-time reconstructions for on-site concerts and other events experienced in the heritage acoustics.

Publications

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