In West Belfast lays the Peace Wall Belfast, a manifestation of multifaced messages on political, religious, and communal ideals represented by physical properties of cement, metal, fences, gates, and artwork. There have been discussions on initiatives to take down the walls, however, this remains a fragile state. When thinking about the connectivity of the surrounding spaces and communities, the placing of the Peace Wall(s) blocks any opportunity of cross-communication and produces disorienting effects. However, through alternative artistic approaches focusing on sound, there can be innovative capabilities of sharing these stories and spaces with spatial audio techniques. To use spatial audio to change the perception of these spaces brings forth alternative periods of reflections from stimulating another sensory tool other than sight. Forming two unique listening experiences that focus on the virtual abilities to combine auditory spaces into an immersive installation environment and binaural soundwalks to design site-specific augmentation of the sonic properties of the Peace Wall’s surrounding spaces. These projects aim at using spatial audio and artistic practice to plan new approaches for conflict transformation in Northern Ireland.
Divided Spaces by Georgios Varoutsos is an audio immersive piece focusing on the Peace Wall between the Falls and Shankill road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Representing connectivity of spaces and experiences through sound to highlight Past, Present, and Future relations with the Peace Wall(s). It hosts an immersive sonic round-table discussion on controversial issues concerned with the history of the ‘Troubles’ and the status of Peace Wall(s) around the country.
The piece compresses the large surface areas surrounding the Peace Wall into a room listening experience. Demonstrating the separation and isolation from either side’s community spaces.
Georgios Varoutsos (b.1991) is a sonic artist from Montreal, Canada. He is currently completing his Ph.D. studies in Music at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (SARC) at Queen’s University Belfast, Northern Ireland. He has graduated with a Master’s in Research, Pass with Distinction, in Arts & Humanities – Focus in Sonic Arts at Queen’s University Belfast. He has also completed a BFA with Distinction in Electroacoustic Studies and a BA in Anthropology, both from Concordia University in Montreal, Canada.
He explores the field of sound through an extensive range of projects and performances. His audio creations derive from different inspirations such as field recordings, digital recordings, amplified sound materials, audio processing, synthesis, and experimental techniques. Georgios is merging his various backgrounds of study into research projects comprising immersive audio, sonification, urban arts, sonic arts, and socially engaged arts. This has been presented by using sound as a platform for cultural storytelling.