Co.Design

A Globe That Doubles As A Record, Playing Audio From Around The World

A one-of-a-kind home for artist Yuri Suzuki’s international field recordings.

Since 2009, designer and sound artist Yuri Suzuki has had one constant companion during his travels around the world: his dictaphone. In Rio De Janeiro, he captured irresistible fragments of Baile funk drifting over from a nearby favela. In Japan, a strange train announcement caught his ear. And in London, while riding a bus full of Russian tourists, he taped his fellow passengers as they belted out their national anthem in an impromptu singalong. While most would be content to store these aural mementos on a CD, Suzuki had something a bit different in mind. He created a globe that plays the recordings back as it spins.

Suzuki hasn’t quite perfected his spherical record, which he calls "The Sound of the Earth," but he’s already got a working prototype. As a stylus passes over the various regions of the jet-black globe, the artist’s recordings from those locations warble into tune. The soundscape includes folk songs, spoken-word recordings, found sounds, and pop music--a musical odyssey lasting 30 minutes in total.

The artist created the prototype with help from friends Masa Kimura, a robotic artist, and Akichika Tanaka, an engineer. Fellow artist Bengt Sjölén assisted in mapping the recordings to the geographic regions in which they were collected, and turntable manufacturer Vestax advised the group along the way. Incredibly, a machine of their own design cut the grooves into the globe itself, which was made by spraying a plastic ball with lacquer paint (apparently, while quick to warp, vinyl’s not all that cooperative for globe-making).

While it’s already taken him nearly four years to collect the recordings that comprise the half-hour journey, Suzuki says there’s one last place he’s set on visiting. "Now I am hoping to record sound from a small city in Spain [called] Tarifa," he told Co.Design. And what’s there to hear in Tarifa? Suzuki says he read that because of the local geography, wind traveling through the town makes a strange sound, apparently causing widespread depression and driving residents to suicide. Hmmm . . . maybe save that one for a B-side.

[Hat tip: Dezeen, Images: Hitomi Kai Yoda]

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