AER 2016: Día doce

Día doce: 04/09/16

The nocebo hypothesis

The nocebo effect is a negative reaction from exposure to an innocuous substance due to expectations of harm. (Tonin et al., 2016: 78)

A list of sounds to record that are the fondest memories and sound objects that the residents of Los Gázquez experience and think about. (Some sounds have already been recorded and therefore are omitted from this list. This list is my target to record before I leave Los Gázquez in two days time.

  • Goats ruminating
  • Flip Flops gliding through the hard floors
  • Door of the outside studio opening and closing
  • Curtain in the wind swooshing of Abbie’s bedroom
  • Sol working on his online entrepreneurial YouTube enterprise
  • The fizz of dry clay when in contact with water
  • Pumping water from the large deposit reservoir into the main house cistern.
  • Lighting of the wood fire boiler
  • The Land Rover
  • The door accessing the boiler room

I read many journal articles that were investigating the psycho-acoustic effects (or the factoid of them) between infrasound caused by wind turbines and HVAC systems. It seemed that the majority of evidence is pointing towards there being no clear correlation between the two and that it must be a lot of psychosocial factors that cause the disturbance. There is no consistent data.


A variety of useful things came up, such as a review over different types of infrasonic measuring devices and their strengths and weaknesses (land-borne and air-borne measurement devices)… Probably the best piece of information was about how AC and HVAC units make a deliberate ‘masking’ noise or ‘white noise’ that helps maintain the people space ambience in office environments. Amazingly, in more modern systems that are better efficient and make less noise (as they do not push air they are controlled systems based on convection etc), building estates specialists tend to insert additional loudspeaker grids throughout the building to supplement the ‘masking’ with balanced white noise output… It just seems completely crazy.

I was also interested in the notion of the nocebo effect. The suggestion that if you’re told something you start to believe it and hear it everywhere. I assume this same principle applies to the chaos theory stuff like number 23…. Once you know about it you see it everywhere. I’m not sure, but there is no doubt some strength in this notion of the power of suggestion being something that people are then convinced they can feel or hear etc.

There was also a great article about a pneumatic infrasound generator and a scientific model of the atypical large scale wind turbine noise as infrasound with harmonics. This is something I should like to pick up upon at a later stage in my research I think. Maybe I can replicate the system.


The Art for the Environment International Artist Residency Programme (AER) was launched in 2015 by Professor Lucy Orta, UAL Chair of Art and the Environment. Between August and September 2016, I spent two weeks at the arts-led field research centre Joya: arte + ecología. This is my journal.


Tonin, Renzo., Brett, James., Colagiuri, Ben., (2016). The effect of infrasound and negative expectations to adverse pathological symptoms from wind farms. Journal of Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Active Control. Vol. 35(I) 77-90. Sage, London, UK.