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La marche – est haute 4 juin 2015

Le 4 juin 2015, David Madden va donner une balade sonore “Soundwalking home” (15:00h),
St. Viateur et Outremont.

This is one stage of the sound art and writing project “Here be dragons” by Andra McCartney.

Plus de détails ici:

On 4 Jun 2015, David Madden will be giving a soundwalk entitled “Soundwalking home” beginning at 3 pm, rain or shine (except thunderstorms).

Une partie du projet “La marche – est haute” dirigé par Eric Mattson. “La marche (est haute) présente, entre avril et juin 2015, dix interventions numériques, sonores et artistiques en milieu urbain.”
http://oral-records.blogspot.ca/

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Dance Dramaturgy: Returning to the Memory of the Event (2) / Retour sur la mémoire d’un événement (2)

(Version française ci-dessous/ French version below)

In February 2014, I contacted the participants of a Soundwalking Interactions (SI) performance-installation, presented at York University for the Dance Dramaturgy conference in June 2011, to enquire on their memories of the project. At SI, we were interested in learning if this project might have affected their subsequent work, and in how their memories of the experience took shape. How does the memory of such an embodied experience translate into words? How to account for the elusive remains of an encounter between artists of different disciplines and the experience of immersive environments? Collaborations often work mysteriously; others’ ideas infiltrate one’s own and, in the case of performance, blend into an ephemeral production that survives mostly in memory, with videos and photographs sometimes providing an imagery for the experience. Such encounters may influence and further inspire artists in their work, for their vision may have momentarily met another’s and created a communality of interests that persists in time and memory. Similarly, the memory of an immersion within the environment of a performance may exert an influence on further artistic work. The embodied mind remembers and may partially reproduce the experience throughout subsequent works.

The Dance Dramaturgy performance-installation was a choreography structured by a soundwalk and by dancers improvising in a responsive environment. The performers’ movements activated edited sound excerpts from the walk in different sections of the installation and traces of those spatial explorations also appeared as colored projections onto a screen. The result could be considered as a multilayered score of different traces of embodied memories: firstly those from the soundwalk in a park in Toronto, secondly those from the rehearsed improvisations and creative process and finally, the real-time responsive colored projections also offered ephemeral traces of the live performers’ improvised movements. With this project of returning to the memory of the performance, we are adding an additional layer, one that is perhaps even more difficult to seize: the lasting but ethereal traces of a performance in the participants’ memory.

The participants came from different disciplines: sound arts, digital media arts and dance. They seemed to share an interest for using landscapes and soundscapes as playgrounds for creation and artistic inspiration, both in their previous and subsequent works. I gathered the accounts of four participants, via email exchanges with two of the dancers, Jesse Dell and Tracey Norman, and a recorded conversation between artists/scholars Andra McCartney and Don Sinclair, who both initiated the project.

The two dancers described their experience as two different moments in time: firstly the experience of the soundwalk and then the collaborative work. In one account, the memory of the walk was very detailed and multi-sensorial: “ I remember my rubber boots and my red rain coat. I remember the sound of the planes in the sky, the trickling of the stream we briefly stopped at, the sound of our steps in the gravel, the sounds of our steps breaking small twigs and sticks on the ground.” (Jesse) The other account expresses how the memory of the walk permanently transformed the space for this other dancer’s continuing experience of the park: “I remember very clearly our walk through the ravine and I now live very close to where we started the walk – in the St-Clair West area- and so whenever I pass by I think of it. When I walk through the ravine I’m quite aware of the sounds and how they change from season to season because of the soundwalking project.” (Tracey) Both accounts detailed different appropriations of the same event, the former returning in memory to her personal embodied and sensorial perspective of the walk, the latter inscribing the memory of the walk and furthering its impact on everyday walking practices.

One dancer also mentioned how the walk as well as the collaboration between artists of different disciplines contributed to bringing “a larger basis of experience, understanding and relationship moving into creation.” She further adds: “it helped create a truly multimedia experience with many layers.” (Tracey) Don Sinclair also described this interdisciplinary collaboration as “communicating through different means and modes throughout the process” which gave the project different “layers of knowledge”. Both Andra McCartney and Don Sinclair insisted during their conversation on how the dancers brought a different embodied understanding to the soundwalk and the creative process, one that they were unfamiliar with: “it made me much more attentive about the walking part of soundwalking as well as the listening part, which I was much more focused on in the past, coming out of sound ecology.” (Andra) She described how this collaboration with dancers helped her in developing more awareness about the flocking movements of the groups she led during other soundwalks, and helped her to better transfer the lead of the walk to others by simply following these impulses coming from the group.

The way that the dancers physically engaged their bodies into exploring the walk together had already sketched a score for the performance. The rehearsals organized the memories of their movements as a flock and as individuals during the walk, generating a structure for the improvised performance. Throughout our exchange, Jesse remembered finding a heavy metal handle during the walk that made a sound that she particularly liked, and she repeatedly played with this sound during the performance. The dancers’ bodies communicated through movement the landscape and soundscape that they remembered from the walk. In a conversation published online on The Dance Current,[1] Bee Pallomina (another dancer from this SI project) speaks about her method of creation for a subsequent work as “moving not as ourselves but as a landscape”. Perhaps her experience of soundwalking as a creative process for the performance-installation has informed her understanding of “moving as a landscape”. Undoubtedly, her interests remain in close connection with the work produced with Soundwalking Interactions.

The dancers perpetuated in their dance the memory of the soundwalk’s landscape and soundscape and the space they created was further transformed with the projections remixing their live movements within the performance-installation. Could all performances be considered as the remixed memory of a creation process and rehearsals? Traces of previous works surviving in subsequent works also are, in a way, remixing this memory once more. Accounts of performances are deemed to be partial but if pieced together, they may bring a larger perspective on the lasting remains of performances and on the intricate influence of collaborations.

Link to other posts on the Dance Dramaturgy performance-installation:

https://soundwalkinginteractions.wordpress.com/category/dance/

For more information on the participants’ works:

Andra McCartney:

http://coms.concordia.ca/faculty/mccartney.html

Don Sinclair:

http://www.yorku.ca/dws/research-creative.html

Tracey Norman:

http://traceynorman.com/home.html

https://vimeo.com/92143980

Jesse Dell:

http://jessedell.com

http://www.jddance.ca

https://www.youtube.com/user/jessedell

Bee Pallomina: http://www.thedancecurrent.com/review/understory-understory

[1]See Bee Pallomina on her piece The Understory: http://www.thedancecurrent.com/review/understory-understory

 

Version française:  

En février 2014, j’ai approché les participants d’une ancienne performance-installation des Soundwalking Interactions (SI), qui avait été présentée à l’Université York pour la conférence Dance Dramaturgy en juin 2011, afin de les questionner sur ce qu’ils/elles retiennent de ce projet. Avec les SI, nous cherchions à savoir quelle forme a pu prendre leur souvenirs, et si ce projet a pu influencer d’autres créations auxquelles ils/elles auraient participé subséquemment. Comment le souvenir d’une telle expérience incarnée se traduit-il en mots? Comment revenir sur les traces insaisissables d’une rencontre entre artistes de différentes disciplines et sur l’expérience d’un environnement immersif? Le travail de collaboration fonctionne parfois de façon mystérieuse; les idées d’autrui infiltrent les idées de l’un/e et, dans le cas de la performance, se fondent en une production éphémère qui survit principalement dans la mémoire des participants, les captations vidéo et les photographies procurant parfois une imagerie retraçant cette expérience. De telles rencontres peuvent marquer et inspirer le travail des artistes, puisque leur vision s’est momentanément jointe à celle d’un/e autre et a ainsi créé une communauté d’intérêts qui résiste au temps et s’inscrit dans la mémoire. Le souvenir d’une immersion dans l’environment d’une performance peut également exercer une influence sur la démarche artistique. La conscience incarnée a une mémoire et peut reproduire partiellement cette expérience lors de créations subséquentes.

La performance-installation de la conférence Dance Dramaturgy était une chorégraphie structurée par une marche sonore et par les improvisations de danseuses dans un environnement interactif. Les mouvements des danseuses activaient des extraits sonores modifiés de la marche dans différentes sections de l’installation et les traces de ces explorations spatiales apparaissaient comme projections colorées sur un écran. Le résultat pourrait se décliner en une partition étagée de différentes traces de souvenirs incarnés : d’abord celles de la marche sonore dans un parc de Toronto, ensuite celles des pratiques d’improvisation et du processus de création et finalement, les projections colorées réactives reproduisaient en temps réel les traces éphémères des mouvements improvisés par les danseuses. Ce présent projet de retourner à la mémoire de cette performance ajoute une couche supplémentaire à ces traces, peut-être une encore plus difficile à saisir : celle des traces durables, mais éthérées, de la performance dans la mémoire des participants.

Les participants provenaient de différentes disciplines : les arts du son, les arts médiatiques et numériques et la danse. Ils semblaient partager un intérêt pour l’utilisation de paysages et environnements sonores comme terrains de jeu pour la création et l’inspiration artistique, dans leurs travaux précédents comme subséquents. J’ai rassemblé les témoignages de quatre participants, à travers des échanges courriels avec deux danseuses, Jesse Dell et Tracey Norman, et à travers une conversation enregistrée entre les artistes-chercheurs Andra McCartney et Don Sinclair, qui ont tous deux instigué le projet.

Les deux danseuses ont décrit leur expérience en deux temps : d’abord l’expérience de la marche sonore et ensuite celle du travail de collaboration. Dans l’un des témoignages, le souvenir de la marche était décrit dans le menu détail et de façon multi-sensorielle : « Je me souviens de mes bottes de caoutchouc et de mon imperméable rouge. Je me souviens du son des avions dans le ciel, du gargouillis du ruisseau devant lequel nous nous sommes arrêté/e/s, du son de nos pas dans la gravelle, du son de nos pas brisant de petites brindilles et branches sur le sol. » (Jesse) L’autre témoignage exprimait combien le souvenir de la marche a transformé de façon permanente le parc pour cette danseuse dans son expérience de cet espace au quotidien : « Je me souviens très clairement de notre marche à travers le ravin et j’habite maintenant très proche d’où nous avions débuté la marche – près de la section St-Clair West- et donc à chaque fois que j’y passe j’y repense. Quand je marche à travers le ravin je suis plus attentive aux sons et à combien ils varient à travers les saisons, grâce à ce projet de marche sonore. » (Tracey) Ces deux témoignages racontent différentes appropriations du même évènement, la première retournant aux souvenirs de la mémoire sensorielle et incarnée de la marche, selon une perspective personnelle, et la deuxième inscrivant le souvenir de la marche et poursuivant son impact sur les pratiques quotidiennes.

Une des deux danseuses a aussi mentionné combien la marche ainsi que la collaboration entre artistes de différentes disciplines a contribué à fonder «  une plus grande base d’expérience, de compréhension et de liens de relation à transposer dans la création. » Elle rajoute : « cela a aidé à créer une véritable expérience multimédia avec plusieurs couches. » (Tracey) Don Sinclair a aussi décrit cette collaboration interdisciplinaire comme « communiquant à travers différents moyens et modes durant le processus » ce qui procura au projet différentes « couches de connaissance ». Lors de sa conversation avec Andra McCartney, ils ont insisté sur le fait que les danseuses apportèrent une compréhension incarnée à la marche sonore et au processus de création, un type de connaissance avec lequel ils étaient peu familiers : « cela m’a rendue aussi attentive à la partie « marche » de la marche sonore qu’à celle de l’écoute, sur laquelle j’avais porté plus d’attention dans le passé, étant donné que j’étais issue du milieu de l’écologie sonore. » (Andra) Elle a aussi décrit comment cette collaboration avec des danseuses l’a aidé à prendre conscience des mouvements de chœur du groupe lors d’autres marches sonores qu’elle a guidées et à mieux transférer le contrôle de la marche, en suivant simplement ces impulsions en provenance du groupe.

La façon dont les danseuses engageaient physiquement leur corps dans une exploration commune de la marche a jeté l’ébauche d’une partition pour la performance. Les répétitions ont organisé les souvenirs des mouvements de chœur et des mouvements individuels explorés lors de la marche, générant une structure pour une performance improvisée. À travers notre échange, Jesse s’est rappelée avoir trouvé une lourde poignée de métal durant la marche, qui produisait un son qu’elle affectionnait particulièrement et avec lequel elle a beaucoup joué durant la performance. Les corps des danseuses communiquaient à travers leurs mouvements leurs souvenirs du paysage et de l’environnement sonore de la marche. Dans une conversation publiée en ligne sur le site de The Dance Current[1], Bee Pallomina (une autre danseuse qui a participé à ce projet de SI) décrit sa méthode de création pour une performance subséquente comme essayant de « se mouvoir comme un paysage, et non comme soi. » Peut-être que son expérience d’utilisation de la marche sonore comme processus créatif pour la performance-installation a nourri sa compréhension du concept de «  se mouvoir comme un paysage ». Ses intérêts artistiques démontrent sans aucun doute une affinité avec le travail produit pour Soundwalking Interactions.

À travers leur danse, les danseuses ont perpétué le souvenir du paysage et de l’environnement sonore de la marche et l’espace qu’elles ont ainsi créé fut à nouveau transformé par les projections qui remixaient leur mouvements lors de la performance-installation. Toute performance peut-elle être considérée comme la mémoire remixée d’un processus de création et de ses répétitions? Les traces de créations précédentes survivant à travers les performances subséquentes remixent elles-aussi, d’une certaine façon, ces souvenirs. Bien que les récits de souvenirs des performances soient considérées comme étant partiaux, une fois rassemblés ils peuvent apporter une perspective plus large sur les restes durables des performances et sur l’influence complexe des collaborations sur le travail artistique.

Lien vers les autres entrées sur la performance-installation de Dance Dramaturgy:

https://soundwalkinginteractions.wordpress.com/category/dance/

Pour plus d’information sur le travail des participants:

Andra McCartney:

http://coms.concordia.ca/faculty/mccartney.html

Don Sinclair:

http://www.yorku.ca/dws/research-creative.html

Tracey Norman:

http://traceynorman.com/home.html https://vimeo.com/92143980

Jesse Dell:

http://jessedell.com

http://www.jddance.ca

https://www.youtube.com/user/jessedell

Bee Pallomina:

http://www.thedancecurrent.com/review/understory-understory

[1]Voir Bee Pallomina sur sa performance The Understory: http://www.thedancecurrent.com/review/understory-understory

Dance Dramaturgy: Returning to the Memory of the Event/ Retour sur la mémoire d’un événement

February 18, 2014 Leave a comment

(Version française ci-dessous/ French version below)

How does one remember the experience of a soundwalk installation? How does the memory of a past work affect current creative processes? In the next few weeks, I will be contacting and dialoguing with participants of a performance-installation presented at York University for the Dance Dramaturgy conference (June 2011). I will engage with those participants in conversations about the memory of their experience, and for my next blog entry, I will respond to their accounts of those past events.

The Dance Dramaturgy performance-installation was a choreography structured by a soundwalk and by dancers improvising in a responsive environment. The performers’ movements activated edited sound excerpts from the walk in different sections of the installation and traces of those spatial explorations also appeared as colored projections onto a screen, creatively reinterpreting the dancers’ embodied memory of the soundwalk.

————————————————————–

Comment se remémore-t-on une participation à une installation de marche sonore? Est-ce que la mémoire d’un travail précédent affecte le processus créatif ? Au cours des prochaines semaines, j’entrerai en contact et dialoguerai avec les participants d’une performance-installation présentée à l’Université York et créée dans le cadre de la conférence Dance Dramaturgy  (juin 2011). Je m’engagerai avec ces participants dans des conversations sur le souvenir de leur expérience et lors de ma prochaine publication sur ce blog, je réagirai à leurs récits de ces évènements.

La performance-installation de Dance Dramaturgy proposait une chorégraphie structurée par une marche sonore et par l’improvisation de danseuses dans un environnement interactif. Les mouvements des danseuses activaient des extraits sonores modifiés de la marche dans différentes sections de l’installation et les traces de ces explorations spatiales apparaissaient comme projections colorées sur un écran, réinterprétant de manière créative le souvenir incarné des danseuses de leur marche sonore.

Links/Liens:

York University, Dance Dramaturgy

https://soundwalkinginteractions.wordpress.com/category/dance/

Same/même installation, Concordia University, workshop/atelier Canal Lachine:

https://soundwalkinginteractions.wordpress.com/2010/12/02/workshop/

https://soundwalkinginteractions.wordpress.com/2011/05/24/the-aural-experience-of-physical-space-–-an-interactive-installation/

Sounds from the Underground

April 23, 2013 2 comments

Une version française de ce texte se trouve ici

What kind of soundwalking interactions to explore in Montreal during the long cold winter of 2013? Sounds from the Underground! In February of 2013, I asked several undergraduate students of sound courses in the Communication Studies program at Concordia University to go into Montreal’s underground city and record soundwalks through different parts of the complex. This is what I asked them to do:

Do four soundwalks, each walk being between 45 mins and one hour, in the underground city. You can repeat the same route at different times, or choose different routes each time. At least two of the walks should link with the CCA. You can find maps of the underground city online to guide your plans. I would like you to record the walk, listen back to the recording and write a descriptive summary about each walk (about one page or 350 words each time), and select a short excerpt (less than 90 secs) from each walk that is of particular sonic interest. Your summary should describe the route that you took, for future reference (or you could draw it on the underground city map if you wanted). Make sure that when you are doing the recording, you monitor on headphones and avoid excessive wind and clothing noise.

This method follows some important tenets of our research: firstly, the repetition of soundwalks through time, seeking a variety of recording perspectives and experiences of similar places, within each person’s practice as well as that of the group as a whole. Descriptive writing is used as a means of reflecting on each experience and situating it in relation to the others. Selecting sounds of sonic interest unearths recurrent themes and provides short samples of the underground ambiances for listening. What follows is a report written by the leader of our merry underground recording band, Natalie Arslanyan. Thanks to recordists Maximilien Bianchi, Kaeleigh d’Ermo, Mallika Guhan, Jacob Stanescu, Luciana Trespalacios, Nadia Volkova, and Alexandrina Wilkinson.

Sounds from the Underground: A City Unnoticed

Busy traffic, pedestrians crossing the street, car horns, and ambulance sirens – these are sounds often associated with describing city soundscapes, or what a city sounds like. Montreal, in particular, is known for the sounds of its street buskers, cyclists darting by, conversations in French, cobblestone roads, and church bells echoing off buildings in the Old Port. Like most places, these characteristics describe the city as it would be perceived from the ground-up; however, many disregard a significant and noteworthy area of Montreal, one which tends to go unnoticed – the Underground City.

Montreal’s Underground City is a discrete and concealed space. Located below the ground, it ranges from areas surrounding Guy-Concordia metro station, eastwards towards Beaudry, southwards into metro Champ-de-Mars, and westwards towards Lucien-L’Allier metro. For many, it represents a shopping centre, a link between surrounding businesses and metro stations, a place for entertainment, or an escape from Montreal’s harsh winter weather. Regardless, the various activities and sounds that occur beneath the streets of Montreal deserve great attention and exploration.

In an attempt to explore the Underground City, Prof. McCartney asked eight undergraduate sound students from Communication Studies at Concordia University to embark on several soundwalks throughout the underground, and to audio record the walks. During these soundwalks, the students stayed mainly within the underground space, later emerging onto city streets, and linking to the CCA, or Canadian Centre for Architecture. Their findings suggest that as in any other urban areas, recurrent sonic themes emerge and ultimately create a soundscape for the Underground City. The Underground City is also noted for its differences in ambiance and tone between different sections of the complex. The underground in all its vastness has the ability to guide individuals into unfamiliar places, leading to unpredictable situations and feelings of isolation and confusion. Finally, the students found a notable difference in ambiance between Montreal streets and the area of the CCA.

There are many distinct and recurring sounds that emerge from the Underground City, including those produced from metro stations and trains, escalators and ventilation systems, the presence of music, activity within food courts, and fountain sounds. Significant differences in ambiance were found between metro stations, the underground mall, and the streets above ground. One student speaks specifically about the change in soundscape from Les Cours de Mont-Royal, a shopping centre within the underground complex, to the Peel metro station, where “[t]he music faded to be replaced by a faint mechanical drone, and the beeping of Opus cards came into the foreground”.  In another situation, a distinction can be found between the “beeps, bustle, and hum of the Metro compared to the quieter boutiques that line the walls of Montreal’s Underground City”. Differences in soundscape can also be affected by the time of the day. Upon arriving to the McGill metro station at approximately 9:30 pm, one student felt a calmness and sense of dead-space within her surroundings. Had she entered the same station at 8:30 am the next morning during rush hour, she may have had an experience much different from her own.

One of the most notable and recurrent sounds throughout the Underground City is that of escalators and ventilation systems. The “overpowering drone” produced by both systems creates a shifting omnipresent hum throughout the underground, leading them to become unnoticed and less distinct among people walking by (https://soundcloud.com/nataliearslanyan/underground-city-escalators). As one student noted, “[i]t seems as though these are the baseline of the Underground City. They are everywhere and they colour the sonic landscape throughout”.

The clicking of shoes and high heels on the cold, tiled floors of the underground city is another distinct sound, and appears much more in the foreground in quieter areas of the mall  (https://soundcloud.com/nataliearslanyan/footsteps-underground; https://soundcloud.com/nataliearslanyan/underground-ambiance). The presence of music is also a recurrent theme of the underground. Music is heard through an intercom that is played throughout the entire complex, as well as in individual stores and in different shopping centres. The amount of music heard becomes an overwhelming experience, as “different snippets of top 40 songs coming at you from different directions; there is barely any rest,” (https://soundcloud.com/nataliearslanyan/music-1).  It is also not uncommon to see shoppers plug into their mp3 players and listen to their music through headphones. This form of music listening isolates the individual from the rest of their surroundings, just as the Underground City seems isolated and unknown from the streets above.

Some of the most interesting sounds were found in food courts: “the banging of pots, sizzling of fires, the sound of cash registers, all supported by continuous chatter…there seemed to be a sense of layering, almost like a musical composition,” (https://soundcloud.com/nataliearslanyan/underground-food-court). There seemed to be an increase in sound activity and attention drawn to food courts in comparison to other parts of the underground. As one student explains, “the ambiance of the food court was especially fun because I could listen to the jazzy soundtrack coming out of the speakers and do close-ups of restaurant machines that were still working.” Sounds produced from food courts are influenced by their location within the underground complex and the people occupying the food courts. For example, there is a significant difference in ambiance between the food court located in the Eaton Centre, characterized as chaotic with the presence of children and families, and the food court in Cours de Montréal, where business people are more likely to be found. The differences in volume and textures of sound vary between food courts throughout the underground complex; however, it seems that food courts are perceived as a central area for people to meet, relax, and take a break from their daily activities. The placement of a large water fountain in the middle of the Place Desjardins food court, for example, provides an additional sense of relaxation and simultaneously produces a sonically interesting, rhythmically and timbrally variable sound to the overall soundscape (https://soundcloud.com/nataliearslanyan/water-fountain).

Aboveground, the downtown Saint-Laurent area, filled with students, clubs, and bars, will sound considerably different from Montreal’s Old Port, with its large stone buildings, lesser evening activity and circuitous routes for traffic. This same concept of neighbourhood sound character can be applied to the underground complex, especially when considering “upper-class” and “middle-class” areas. As one student notes, “[d]oes something sound rich or poor? Probably not, but moving from the busy underbelly of the city to the upper reaches where movement is not done en-masse, things get quieter.” (Luciana – walking underground) The Eaton Centre is observed as ever-changing and chaotic, as opposed to Place Montreal Trust as being busy, yet relaxed. High-end sections, such as the Queen Elizabeth hotel and Les Cours Mont-Royal, are expressed as containing less “noise”. As one recordist notes, noise can be considered as “a number of sounds found to be unwanted/undesirable”, or sounds that create clutter within an environment. There is a contrast between high-end and low-end areas, in terms of how unwanted sounds, or “noise”, can be masked with other sounds. Another student indicates the projection of jazz music in the Place d’Armes metro station tunnel towards the Palais de Congres to overpower sounds of escalators and fluorescent lights. It is interesting to note how ambiance and tone within the Underground City can change from one area to another, regardless of all these sections residing under one roof.

The Underground City is capable of leading individuals unfamiliar with the area into unpredictable and interesting situations. One student unexpectedly found herself in the middle of a live concert, as she walked from the tunnel between Lucien L’Allier Metro and the Bell Centre around 10:00 pm on a Monday night. Although she anticipated it to be a quiet evening, she almost immediately felt that something was different, as she started “hearing the sub bass of what sounded like a dance track of some kind.” Without knowing, the student had walked into a Lady Gaga concert and did not realize until exiting the Bell Centre and seeing a poster advertising the concert.

Several soundwalk recordists encountered buskers within the Underground City. One recordist found a man busking with a guitar, cardboard boat, fishing pole, and a sign reading “fishing for change”. The Saint Henri metro station is noted as usually being filled with buskers. On one particular soundwalk, a student recorded the sound of three buskers playing a cover of a Pink Floyd song, accompanied by several homeless people whistling, talking, and clapping at Place-des-Arts metro. Another student notes her experience with a busker, as he looked at her suspiciously the closer she approached him, stopped singing for a moment, then continued after he felt she was at a far enough distance (). The information gathered from these students suggests that the presence of buskers is a distinctive feature of the Underground City, and that recordists cannot automatically assume that it is ok to record musicians playing in a public place, since the music is the source of their income.

Each recordist expanded their soundwalks to include Montreal streets, ranging from the Square-Victoria area, to Lucien L’Allier, to Guy-Concordia metro. In addition to busy roads and side streets, the Canadian Centre for Architecture was also incorporated into many of the recordings. The CCA is located between Boulevard Rene-Levesque and Rue Sainte-Catherine Ouest, two exceptionally large and busy streets in downtown Montreal.

Despite being placed within close proximity to highway 720, there is a significant change in soundscape upon entering the gates leading to the museum’s courtyard. There is also a deepening sense of hollowness and emptiness, as the sounds of bustling traffic lose much of their omnipresence. The soundscape is quiet and calm and for a moment, you can hear the sound of birds chirping. Suddenly, the sound of a siren appears – except there is a notable distinction between this siren and another siren heard through regular traffic. The quiet and desolate environment of the courtyard adds an eerie and isolated aesthetic to the siren, as its sound pierces through the city and bounces off the stonewalls of the CCA. Upon exiting the CCA gates, sounds of the city emerge once again – the turbulence of cars and trucks whisking down the highway, cyclists whizzing by, and the previously-heard sound of the siren now much less clear and distinct. It is amazing how architecture can affect the perception of sounds within a city. What would the Underground City sound like without escalators or ventilation systems? How would this change the overall soundscape of the Underground City?

Explorations of the Underground City present an array of observations and questions. Many of the soundwalk recordists noted their unfamiliarity with the world underground and experiencing the underground in the same way a tourist would, exploring it as unfamiliar territory. Some were familiar with specific underground spaces, such as areas around Bonaventure and McGill metro. One recordist explained how his perspective of experiencing the underground mall shifted from being less of an explorer and more of a listener, which allowed him to enjoy his time uncovering other mysteries of the Underground City. Regardless of the numerous strange looks received or having shoppers misread the use of a microphone as an interview opportunity, many of the sounds uncovered from the underground present an inconspicuous and unique dimension of Montreal, demonstrating yet another hidden treasure beneath Montreal’s surface.

Link to “Sounds from the Underground” SoundCloud webpage:

https://soundcloud.com/nataliearslanyan/sets/sounds-from-the-underground

Balade sonore / soundwalk Montreal

Balade sonore / soundwalk Montreal

23-03-13 14:00 – 16:30          March 23

Venez vous joindre au groupe de recherche “La marche sonore comme processus d’interaction” pour une balade sonore qui aura lieu dans le centre ville et le Quartier chinois, suivie d’une rencontre discussion. Nous nous donnons rendez-vous à la sortie de la station de métro St-Laurent, coin sud-est de Maisonneuve et St-Laurent. Beau temps mauvais temps! Gratuit!

Come join the Soundwalking Interactions team for a soundwalk in the downtown and Chinatown districts of Montreal, followed by a group discussion. We will meet at the exit of St-Laurent Metro station, on the South-East corner of Maisonneuve and St-Laurent. Free for everyone, whatever the weather is!

Marche sonore au marché et au centre-ville de Hamilton

March 5, 2013 1 comment

An English version (and YouTube video) of this text can be found here

La marche sonore du marché Hamilton s’est déroulée dans le quartier entourant le marché du centre-ville d’Hamilton ainsi qu’au square Jackson, et s’est terminée dans le marché lui-même. Nous avons formé un seul groupe de 7 ou 8 personnes à travers rues et allées puis nous nous sommes arrêtés pour discuter. Nous avons ensuite formé de plus petits groupes pour traverser le marché, puis nous sommes réunis à nouveau de l’autre côté pour une autre discussion. Ces marches ont e lieu un vendredi après-midi (vers 15h00) et un samedi matin (vers 10h30). La marche du samedi a été enregistrées par Barb Woolner. Les groupes étaient constitués de quelques résidents qui fréquentent souvent le marché (une dame a mentionné qu’elle y venait 4 ou 5 fois par semaine), ainsi que de quelques visiteurs et nouveaux résidents. Les gens qui habitaient le quartier depuis longtemps ont pu discuter avec nous à propos du contexte historique du quartier et comment il a changé au cours des dernières années, alors que le marché a progressivement été recouvert et rénové. L’enregistrement sonore de la marche est envahi par le doux roulement d’un charriot d’emplettes tiré par l’un des participants. Les bruits des voitures qui passent semblent quant à eux s’étirer, à cause de l’eau qui s’accumule dans les rues en cette journée hivernale plutôt chaude.

Deux participants ont vite réalisés qu’ils avaient l’habitude de fredonner en marchant, un réflexe qui est devenu plus apparent dans le contexte de la marche en groupe. Lors de la discussion d’après-marche, plusieurs participants ont notés que leur écoute était plus attentive lors de la marche en groupe (en comparaison avec la marche en paires), mais que ce même groupe créait en eux une étrange sensation de conscience d’eux-mêmes. Si la tentation de parler est moins forte lors de la marche en groupe, au final cette absence de partage et de rétroaction semble moins profitable à la marche.

Quelques comparaisons ont été faites avec d’autres villes. Un participant a noté que les voitures sont plus âgées à Hamilton, ce qui modifie le bruit du trafic. Les gens semblent plus sociaux à Hamilton, leurs voix sont plus fortes qu’en d’autres lieux, comme à Montréal, où on entend moins les discussions et où les gens semblent se rapprocher pour discuter. Un autre participant a remarqué que certaines parties du square Jackson étaient plus intimes, de par la présence de plafonds abaissés qui encourageaient la discussion. Durant la marche du samedi, nous avons aussi remarqué le bruit insistant des semelles d’espadrilles qui grinçaient sur le plancher du centre commercial, provoquant un jeu de mot entre ‘squeakers’ et ‘sneakers’. Un autre participant a mentionné que l’espace autour des kiosques de légumes, qui attirent une grande foule, étaient plus vivant et bruyant. Les participants ont aussi mentionné l’omniprésence du bruit des réfrigérateurs, que la plupart n’avaient jamais remarqué auparavant. La marche du samedi a aussi été agrémentée de la musique d’un joueur de mandoline qui se mélangeait aux sonneries de l’horloge Birks ainsi qu’aux voix des commerçants et des passants.

Plusieurs participants ont constaté que leur sens de l’odorat s’aiguisait lors des marches sonores, ce que devenait encore plus apparent au marché. Vous remarquerez que l’on peut entendre, sur l’enregistrement sonore, de légers fredonnements d’appréciation émis par la personne qui documentait la marche. Lorsque l’on demande aux gens de concentrer leur attention sur un seul sens, cela provoque une hausse globale de la sensibilité des participants. Ceux-ci sont aussi plus alertes aux stimuli visuels ainsi qu’à leurs propres déplacements spatiaux, ce qui est probablement dû à leur vitesse de déplacement plus lente. Un grand nombre de participants ont souligné le plaisir qu’ils ont ressenti à prendre leur temps et à déambuler, pour un moment, sans horaire ou parcours précis. La marche se transforme en un espace et un moment liminaires, une expérience d’appréciation et d’exploration.

Hamilton downtown and market soundwalks

March 5, 2013 1 comment

La version française de ce texte se trouve ici

The Hamilton market soundwalks explored the area surrounding the market in downtown Hamilton, through the city centre and Jackson square and finally through the market itself. We walked as a single group of 7 or 8 people through the streets and malls, and then stopped for a short discussion. We then split up into smaller groups to walk through the market, and then met at the other side for another discussion period. These walks took place on a Friday afternoon (3 pm) and Saturday morning (10:30 am). The Saturday walk was recorded by Barb Woolner. The people on the walk included some long-time residents who go to the market regularly (one woman said that she goes 4 or 5 times a week), as well as some people who were visitors or newcomers to Hamilton. Long-term residents were able to contribute a historical context on the area and how it has changed, as the market has been covered over and then renovated during more recent years. The texture of the recorded soundwalk from Saturday is suffused throughout with the quiet rolling of a shopping buggy pulled by one walker, which can be heard from time to time in the background. As it is a slushy winter day, water on the streets outlines the movements of cars with long sweeping strokes.

Two walkers noted that they habitually hum while walking, and became more aware of this in a group context. Asked about their listening experience in the larger and smaller groups, people noted that they listen more closely in the large group than in pairs but feel more awkward and self-conscious. There is less temptation to speak in that large group context but less immediate discussion and shared knowledge that enrich the walk in other ways.

Some comparisons were made with other cities. One walker noticed that cars are older in Hamilton, changing the traffic sound. People are very social in Hamilton, speaking with louder voices than in a place like Montreal, where people tend to stand closer together and speak in lower voices. One walker noticed that some parts of Jackson Square are more intimate because of lower ceilings, and seem made for conversation. On the Saturday walk, we noticed how squeaky people’s sneakers are on the floors of the mall, prompting us to call them squeakers rather than sneakers. One walker noticed that areas around vegetable stalls are louder and more lively, because more people seem to be attracted to those stalls. Walkers noticed the ubiquitous sound of refrigerators in the space, something that most had not paid attention to in the past. The Saturday walk was enriched by the mandolin player, whose music was heard now and then, mixed with the chiming of the Birks clock that hangs above the stalls, and the voices of customers and vendors.

Many people noticed how active their sense of smell is on such a walk, especially in a market. You may notice in the recording that the recordist sometimes makes hums of appreciation while walking through the space. There is something about asking oneself to pay attention to one sense that makes all of the senses more alert. People notice more visual aspects of the environment because of slowing down as well, and how they move through the space. Several people commented on how pleasurable it is to slow down and pay attention, to realize that they have no schedule during that time. The soundwalk becomes a liminal time and space, a time to appreciate and explore.