Field Sound

Field Sound is an ongoing collaboration with Douglas Moffat.

To date it has resulted in MID/SIDE Formats X, Sound Field, Pergola Music, Okta, A Requiem for Parc Louis-Cyr and other projects.


May 25 - June 18, 2016
Field Sound: Mid/Side as part of Formats X
Librarie Formats

Vernissage: Wednesday, May 25
Field Sound will speak briefly about our selections while playing records and drinking wine.

Field Sound's (Douglas Moffat & Steve Bates) contribution to Librairie Formats' Formats X series will be launched and on display in the store for just over four weeks. Formats X is a project of Librairie Formats where artists and artist group are invited to select/order a series of books/documents/records around their area of interest. For our iteration, we have included books and records of and about sound and listening. We have tried to cover the breadth of our shared and divergent interests as Field Sound. One that considers the sonics of landscape, radio, conflict, capital, the dead, noise, culture/nature, and what we refer to as acoustic pessimism, a sort of doom-laden listening.



Permanent outdoor sound installation commissioned by the City of Toronto.

with Douglas Moffat
June Callwood Park, Toronto, ON

Software and mechanical design and prototyping with BASH.

A project website with more information is here.

Taking June Callwood’s observation of a cloud as its starting point, OKTA proposes an installation where multiple points of sound are distributed across the artwork site. As clouds pass over the park, sonic moments merge into clouds of sound – shifting, changing, ephemeral. A sensor aimed at the sky reads current cloud cover, which determines the sounds that are released across the installation. Just as a cloud appears, changes and disappears across the horizon, so too will sounds across the site.

June Callwood Park will be located between Fleet Street and Fort York Boulevard in the emerging Fort York Neighbourhood. In 2008, Toronto Parks, Forestry and Recreation completed a competition process for the park design, won by Toronto-based Landscape Architects gh3. The park and artwork are expected to be complete by spring 2011.

The artwork competition and commission are managed by the City of Toronto Cultural Services’ Public Art Office in partnership with Parks, Forestry and Recreation. For more information about public art in the City of Toronto, visit toronto.ca/publicart.

City of Toronto public announcement.


Pergola Music

with Douglas Moffat
Landscapes of Celebration
Olympic Park, Calgary, AB

Nearly a hundred years ago, French composer Erik Satie created a work titled ‘Musique d’ameublement’, a piece to be performed between acts of a play during conversation. It was intended to provide an atmosphere, not to be carefully listened to as a performance. It was perhaps the first ‘background’ music.

Pergola Music is a re-interpretation of this piece. Multiple speakers mounted at different points on the Olympic Park pergola structure will playback a subtle composition amongst the visitors. The sounds, loosely based on Satie’s original score, were made from field recordings from Calgary. Composed in a modular fashion, with many small units that were assembled and reassembled over the months of the festival to create a shifting, changing, composition.


Sound Field

International Garden Festival
Reford Gardens, Metis, QC
2007, 2008, 2009

Concept and sound design by Douglas Moffat and Steve Bates
Electronics and software designed by BASH. Site furniture by jake moore.

50 speaker sound installation
speakers, sensors, electronics, wiring

A buffer of mature poplar trees on the edge of the Festival site is the location of this openended listening experience. As wind passes through the leaves, a field of sound surrounds the visitor. Moffat and Bates propose an intervention that frames and presents this experience by creating an electronic sound field amidst the poplar trees – building on it, transforming it, and ultimately creating a woven fabric of sound.

As visitors wander through the site they will become aware of slowly shifting and changing sounds that are familiar but not clearly identifiable – the buzz of insects, perhaps, or white noise from a radio. Five sensors capture changes in wind speed and direction that are then translated into subtle changes in the sounds broadcast through a grid of small speakers and amplifiers that are distributed throughout the site. A conversation develops as the trees whisper back and the electronic sound field changes in response.

The designers have created a sonic composition that is equal in length to the duration of the Festival (144,000 minutes). Their garden thus becomes a performance space that is responsive to the changes of the site itself. This listening experience is intimately connected with the specific landscape of the Jardins de Métis.

Thank you Geoffrey Jones, jake moore, Lesley Johnstone, International Garden Festival.

Sound Field reviewed in Landscape Architecture China.