Geluidenatlas (Sound Atlas)

There is (too) little vocabulary for communicating about sound. aifoon wants to change that. That is why - together with S.M.A.K. (Museum for Contemporary Art in Gehnt) and the blind / visually impaired people of rehabilitation center BuSo Sint-Rafaël en Symfoon - we have taken up the ambition to create a 'Geluidenatlas' (Sound Atlas).

Fill in our survey and help build our Sound Atlas

Our 'Sound Atlas' is a tool to better navigate the world of sound. And for that, we need your help!

Fill out our survey (in Dutch!) and help us to describe sounds better. The more people participate, the more useful the atlas becomes for communicating about sound. The results are processed in real time, so the Sound Atlas is constantly evolving.

Rewatch the presentation of Sound Atlas at S.M.A.K. (in Dutch)

The results of our survey make up an online Sound Atlas. This was premiered at the S.M.A.K. on June 19th, 2022.

Several stakeholders spoke about their experience with the project, there was a demonstration of echolocation and a bruiteur (sound maker for TV and film) tried to convert a description in words into sound.

View a report of the presentation event here.

Listen to the Sound Atlas podcast (in Dutch!)

In a world where the visual is dominant, we sometimes forget how sound plays a major role in everyday (co-)life. In our research project, we question all kinds of people about sound and language.

Why is there so little vocabulary to really communicate about sound? And especially: what can we do about it? These are the central questions that six experts examine in the three-part podcast Sound Atlas (in Dutch).

aifoon · Geluidenatlas: als geluiden konden spreken...

In three short episodes with six experts, interviewer Thomas Smolders discusses sound, sense and language from their personal knowledge and experience.

  • Stijn Dickel (artistic director aifoon) on the artistic possibilities of sound, listening and listening art
  • Ria Decoopman (director Symfoon) on the importance of sound for the visually impaired and how sighted people are "blind" in listening
  • Philippe Van Cauteren (artistic director S.M.A.K.) on how it is an art to precisely observe and find words to talk about art
  • Frederik Van de Moortel (musician/sound designer) on how sound gives extra meaning to image and film
  • Kurt Feyaerts (professor of linguistics KU Leuven) on the possibilities of language and sound symbolism
  • Sepideh Sedaghatnia (sommelier) on linking words to sensory experiences such as taste, smell, sound

Getting started with a group? Download our educational guide (in Dutch)

If we want to cultivate a language around sound, we need to start the conversation with a lot of people ... Only when masses of people agree on a certain language, a culture around it can be created.

Sound Atlas is a platform that wants to start this conversation and search for words that describe sound 'the best'. If you want to participate, you can go to to fill out the survey (in Dutch). But if you'd like to dig a little deeper into how to approach something like this with a group of people, we suggest an educational guide below (in Dutch).

What came before: workshops with the blind and visually impaired

During the Sound Atlas workshops, blind and visually impaired people describe sounds.

In a previous project, aifoon took a closer look at fascinating sounds from everyday life with a group from St. Rafael school for the blind.

Some participants were doing echolocation, a technique where you click with your tongue and listen to the echo to orient yourself. They then indicated that the language we have for talking about sounds is far too limited and they began collecting words that could describe sounds.

That initial step created gusto and inspiration to work on a comprehensive sound atlas, a tool that both blind and sighted people can use to put their sound experiences into words.

(c) Olivier Donnet
One of the works at the expo "Tastlijnen" asked visitors: how would you describe these sounds? Can you recreate the sounds with the objects on the table? (c) Olivier Donnet
A first attempt at a Sound Atlas.