THE PAPER SOUNDS // A DIFFERENT KIND OF FIX

“It happened in a normal day, taking copies at HDK. Some pages did not come up as expected, then, easily, the bin became their destiny. What a short lifetime! It is an one meter tall bin, and its lid cannot be completely closed because it is full of unwanted paper. I take a look inside and find several sheets of paper just like the copies I just had in my hands. I go further, suddenly I am very interested in the bin’s content. Paper in different qualities, grapf, shapes and prints. Also, for my surprise, lots of blank ones, both sides, that were not even bothered to printed wrongly. Those were just purely wasted.

That bin suddenly turned into a resource for potential projects. I rescued some, put into a bag. But this should not be another recycling project, because after its lifetime it would end up in the bin again - as any other tangible outcome. Is it possible to design without leaving any tangible waste? Which other endings can waste have? Can valuable projects come from inside a bin?

Paper - something tangible and wastable. Can this features be transformed into something completely the opposite - intangible and unwastable? The only answer that comes to mind is sound. Sound disappears after it is played. It does not leave any physical trace. But it is also very broad in meaning, it can be a note or just noise, depends on the frequency and how it is organised.

I re-wasted then the rescued sheets to record and capture the sound of the common actions made with paper. Edited it intuitively, keeping only the high sound waves. The result is a short video, which I exported the audio to an independent file and chopped it into samples - a glimpse of sound used to make music in the computer. With the help of a software, I assigned a different sample to each different key of the keyboard.

What makes a song be a song? What determines if it is good or bad? Even having never worked with music - I am not even able to play an instrument - I decided to risk and organize those notes into songs attempts. I created then an album with 6 tracks. The last one is up to the visitor play with the installed keyboard, to give meaning to the ephemeral act of wasting. I named the album and the songs with existing songs and album names, that represent something to me and, as being put together, they can mean something else - sort of a curation practice.

In this project, the paper works just as any other instrument. But, in this case, no blank paper - that could be used to anything else perhaps more important - was wasted irresponsibly. All this paper will end up in the bin anyways - this action was just retarded.

Now the sound lifetime relies on the device where it is stored. Sound is intangible, so it has no weight. But, once it is stored into a device, its character changes completely - It can be quite heavy. Would what we can touch, see and throw away be less complex, then?”

This project was developed on the Visualising Complexity course of my first year at the Design Masters. The text above is the reflection of the exhibition created, that was dived into three stages:

  • Stage 1: the album and its songs are named as existing music and album names and by being put together they represent the project’s process. You can listen to it here:

 
 
  • Stage 2: Withdraw - the music video, where the samples were extracted from. Please watch it here:

 
 
  • Stage 3: The samples were programmed into the keys of this music keyboard, so the last track of the album, named “Make your own kind of music” is an invitation to experience the rescued paper sounds. All the paper used in this project is in the bag.

paper sounds2
  • Project exhibited from February to May 2018 at Rian Design Museum, Falkenberg, Sweden.