OISTAT Sound Design Group Meeting, Prague, Czech

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The Sound Design Group, under the Scenography Commission(which changed its name into "Performance Design" in 2012) of OISTAT, met at the Prague Quadrennial(PQ) on Saturday, June 14th, 2003 at 6:30 p.m. in the Corso Restaurant. In attendance were:


Rick Thomas, chair of OISTAT Scenography Commission's Sound DesignGroup



Eradz Nazimov, Finland


Janne Auvinen, Finland

Harri Ahponen, Finland

Ross Brown, United Kingdom

Steven Brown, United Kingdom

Robin Conway, United Kingdom

Drees Dhondt, Belgium

Gregg Fisher, United Kingdom

Jethro Joaquin, Phillipines

Yossi Mar Chaim, Israel

Jyrki Sandell, United Kingdom

Eileen Smitheimer, USA

Joris Verniest, Belgium


Before the meeting, our group shared a fine dinner prepared by the Corso restaurant for us. We then opened the formal meeting with a lengthy discussion about the integration of sound design and composition into the Prague Quadrennial. Everyone expressed enthusiasm for the efforts made to include sound at the 2003 Prague Quadrennial. However, everyone expressed great concern over the general lack of control over sound in the various halls, and the general cacophony of noise at the PQ. At the conclusion of the discussion, the sound working group proposed several specific recommendations regarding future PQ’s:




1. Strict enforcement of a “no loudspeaker” rule for all exhibitions, demonstrations, etc.;




2. Encouragement of individual exhibitors to provide sound for exhibits through headphones;




3. Work with a specific sound designer (or team of sound designers) to create an overall auditory ambience or sound design for each of the main halls of the PQ;




4. Acoustically isolation of stage areas from exhibit areas so that sound from any stage does not interfere with the ambience of the exhibitions, other stages, etc., and sound from the exhibitions do not interfere with presentations on stages. 



The discussion then moved on to how to improve the quality of the sound exhibitions at future PQ’s. After much discussion, the Sound Design Group proposed the following:

1. Extension of the personal mp3 player concept employed by the US exhibition to the entire PQ. In the same manner that the PQ organizing committee rents “space” to visual exhibits, the PQ could rent “time” for auditory exhibits on mp3 players. In other words, every country in the National Exhibition, and every school in the Schools exhibition, could be given a certain amount of time to use on the mp3 players at no charge. Countries and schools could then purchase additional time on the players. Mp3 players could be made available to attendees at no charge, or for a small rental fee. In the same manner that visual exhibits are adjudicated for prizes at the PQ, the sound exhibits could also be adjudicated, and a prize awarded for best designer, and perhaps best exhibit. Finally, a compact disc could be created that included some of the finest sonic exhibitions at the PQ (juried from participating entries), and sold at the bookstore. Hopefully, revenue generated by selling time on the mp3 players, renting mp3 players to attendees, or CD sales could help to underwrite the cost of the exhibition.


2. Instead of using the isolated room for the international sound exhibition, use the room to provide a “National Sound Day” for any country that would like to mount a day long (or longer) exhibition during the PQ. The Pendulum Exhibit created by


Finland represents a marvelous example of a type of exhibition that a country might be able to create in this space.


All felt that the Sound Design Group could serve as an excellent group to help organize all of the above activities.




The discussion then turned to future meetings of the Sound Design Group. Jryrki Sandell extended an invitation to the Sound Design Group to meet in


Finland in summer or fall of 2004. The group discussed the possibility of a joint meeting with the Scenography Commission, as part of a larger series of meetings organized around a tour of the Baltic Circle of states in August 2004. Everyone expressed tremendous enthusiasm for this idea, and want to encourage the OISTAT Executive Committee and the Scenography Commission to give serious consideration to helping the Sound Working Group become a more integral part of OISTAT by facilitating the 2004 joint meeting in the Baltic states.


The Sound Design Group has also expressed an interest in meeting at the OISTAT World Congress/USITT Annual Convention/World Stage Design Exhibition in


Toronto in 2005. Rick Thomas will discuss the possibility of the Sound Design Group jointly meeting with the USITT Sound Commission at the 2005 USITT. Rick also provided information about the World Stage Design exhibition, and encouraged everyone to enter their soundscores into this inaugural exhibition, that will include sound design and composition.


The meeting ended with all participants happily returning to the marvelous sonic events of the 2003 Prague Quadrennial. Look for a full report on sound activities at the 2003 Prague Quadrennial in a future issue of Theatre Design and Technology (TD&T), and on the OISTAT website.