listening to the city, part II.


following on from the not-listening project i posted about last week, saturday saw the extended remix of the listening to the city work that i’ve been undertaking. it’s a process work on the act of listening and the role of headphones in urban life, where sound is a public environment.

in the first part, i was a participant. this time, i mostly delegated. i had 9 other fabulous listeners with me to record and absorb the soundscape of the city, making freeform notes along the way.

4 curators
4 artists (1 of whom is also an artist)
a DJ
a stylish go-getter
a writer of sorts
and a slightly extravagant interpreter/member of the polis

each person listened for 1 hour, most in the same spot. each had over-ear headphones as a prop – metaphorically connected to a social code and literally plugged into parts of the city: stairs, handrails, garden beds, public sculptures, bike rails, bus stops, stone columns.

plus, we had the occasional person wondering what we were plugged into, what was going on. as ben said, he could hear ‘the sound of people’s necks turning to stare and wonder’.

i haven’t had a lot of time to distill the experience yet, but in the brief poring over some of the notebooks, it’s interesting to see the same sound events happening and the different ways in which people noted it, experienced it, recorded it. some sounds were noticed, others were not.

most of us went to my local, brother, for a much-need coffee and sweet treat afterwards. it was there that a fantastic round-table discussion happened about the nature of listening in public, the effect of the headphones – both aesthetically and accoustically, and the experience of public sound emersion. i recorded a chunk of it with my dodgy phone voice recorder and am hoping that it captured enough of the dialogue to be useful.

interestingly, everyone’s experience confirmed and related to the research/theory i’ve been poring over, and extended the nature of the previous projects. although it wasn’t quite as big as i imagined it to be, it was still a success, in terms of what i’m interested in engaging with.

thanks to anthea, ben, dunja, eddy, jaymie, kim, kira, nella, simon and uncle george from greece.

thanks for subscribing to she sees red by lauren brown. xx

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