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Posted 15.12.17

Deciphering sonic scores with Berlin design agency Bank Associates

By Kat Peberdy

Berlin-based design agency, Bank Associates

BA (Hons) Graphic Design students from across the programme responded to a creative brief set by Berlin-based design agency, Bank Associates.

Exploring their creative boundaries, the students focussed on analysing visual clues to an audio score in order to produce their own recording, all while being supported by the team from Bank Associates.

Visiting from Berlin, Sebastian Bissinger and Laure Boer are a creative duo not to be reckoned with. Producing design concepts and visual identities for clients including Time, Magnum Photos and Unicef, their work has also been exhibited across the globe and workshops with the pair are highly sought after.

They specialise in questioning the status quo, favouring collaboration with their clients and students to produce innovative and exciting results.

In this workshop, students were invited to observe and record the soundscape of Plymouth, taking field recordings from around the city including shopping centres, the seafront, libraries, cafes, and a host of other places.

From these initial recordings the students assembled the sounds into an edit which then became the starting point for developing a visual graphic musical score, the students were reminded not to think literally, but to draw on their sensitivities as designers to translate an effective direction that could be read and interpreted by others.

On day two, all the outcomes were placed in a tombola and each group received a notation/score from someone else. They then began to interpret the scores and set about generating a response by experimenting with instruments, everyday objects and computers.

The finale was a concert – a visual and sonic presentation of the exciting collaborations. Each new sound piece was played as we displayed the graphic score the students responded to; afterwards, we played the original piece so that we could compare how the groups had understood and interpreted the graphic notation system.

Harry Richards, second-year student, felt the workshops benefited his practice most by ‘understanding their processes’ as Bank work across many creative disciplines, but these share a common thread in the way they are approached. Harry said "Bank Associates demonstrated to me how graphic design has the potential to influence our world through any medium, there are no walls."

Third-year student Jake Davey said "When Bank came to do a workshop I was excited and intrigued to carry out such an open and experimental task that made use of visually mapping and understanding sound.

"It was interesting to analyze sound in a way that I hadn't thought about before. Then to create sound by decrypting somebody else's visual notations was beneficial as I learnt more about how other people perceive sound and form. All in all, this was a fun relaxed and eye-opening experience that pushed me to explore graphic design in a different way."

Harry added "the brief provided was at first, unexpected, though by the end of the journey, it demonstrated to me the full extent of what can be considered design. The overlooked roads can sometimes be the most wonderful."