Exhibiting the Intangible, the (In)audible

Esra Satici, ITP 2015

Event and Project Coordinator, Koç University’s Research Center for Anatolian Civilizations (ANAMED), Istanbul, Turkey

In this post, I will introduce our current exhibition ‘Everyday Sounds: Exploring Sound Through Daily Life’. I will give information on its content and the story behind it.  Finally, I will share its challenges and the ‘firsts’ of this exhibition.

This exhibition is about the sounds we hear on a daily basis. It covers the ones that are always in the background and that we are not necessarily aware of, such as the sound of air conditioning in an office or the noise of a traffic jam. Moreover, it includes sounds that fade away over time, such as the cries of the street vendors in Istanbul. Thus, one of the objectives of Everyday Sounds is to draw attention to the sounds which are out there, but which are ignored/not recognized. Also, it aims to raise awareness on the fading ‘cultural sounds’ and the significance of preserving them for the future. All in all, the exhibition has a special emphasis on sound as cultural heritage.

Composed of four installations, the content development and design of Everyday Sound is done by PATTU (Işıl Ünal, Cem Kozar). Once you enter the venue, an eye-catching installation greets you.


In this part, visitors are given a chance to explore the transportation of sound through tubes. The next part, entitled ‘Inaudible’, draws attention to sounds that stay in the background during daily life. It gives visitors an opportunity to mix as many sounds as they like through buttons on a control panel.


The third installation is quite high-tech thanks to the generous support of Dolby Atmos, Extreme Audio and Pana Film Studios. Entitled ‘Another Day in the City’, this section offers visitors a narrative through sounds, particularly those recorded from Istanbul streets. There is an animation with some text accompanying high-quality sounds from Dolby Atmos Technology, which we know from cinemas.


The fourth and final part of the exhibition is dedicated to the ‘Soundscape of Istanbul’ project executed by Pınar Çevikayak Yelmi as a part of her PhD dissertation. The project aims to draw attention to the heritage value of sound. It is based on a sound library in the Koç University Suna Kıraç Library. Also, an interactive platform www.soundsslike.com is especially designed for this exhibition in which visitors are given a chance to participate in the exhibition through their own sound recordings.


We, as the ANAMED team, experienced some ‘firsts’ in the Everyday Sounds exhibition. To start with, it is the first collective ANAMED exhibition without a curator. PATTU functioned like a curator and made us reflect on the (already) thin line between the curator and designer. Further, it is the first exhibition sponsored by third parties which puts us in direct contact with the related companies. Last but not the least; Everyday Sounds is the first ANAMED exhibition in which intangible cultural elements are in the forefront. It was a challenge to ‘display’ the intangible and (in)audible in the first instance, but we did our best to overcome this challenge.

Colleagues who visit Istanbul until 20 March are more than welcome to visit Everyday Sounds and have a chat about the exhibition in our office. The sound of tram bells from Istiklal Avenue and the sound of coffee machines in the kitchen will probably accompany us.