City As Material: Sonic Geographies

Our final Pitch In & Publish: City As Material event, Sonic Geographies, was held last Friday. A shortage of participants (probably due to the icy weather and weekday timing) meant that myself and Giles were alone in our wander though London, resulting in a slightly different walk then usual. Equipped with Audioboo, we set off to record the different sound properties of the city, in a far more leisurely and exploratory mode then previous events.

We had decided that rather than strain to produce a typical eBook with original work and concepts, which would be limited under the circumstances, we would instead purely document the day’s trip and link to audio recordings made during it. After capturing some of the ambient and wildlife sounds in Hyde Park (mingled with the hum of construction work and a talking animatronic tree), we entered the bustle of Mayfair and Soho. Surprisingly, in this sprawl the sound landscape was remarkably similar, and sometimes indistinguishable, when we were in enclosed courtyards and winding alleys, the geography creating immersive sound bubbles. Lastly, we managed to record the faint notes of a church organ, in the undercroft of the chapel at Lincoln’s Inn.

Back at the studio we created the eBook, lifting the images and GPS located maps of the recordings from Audioboo, and using a QR code to easily link to the relevant page. For the last few pages, we used images from “The Cries Of London” and “The Beggar’s Opera” playing cards sets, then a page consisting purely of a visualisation of white noise, to illustrate the change of the sound landscape in recent years – the cries of market traders promoting their wares has given way to a homogenised hubbub of engines and vehicles.

You can listen to the recordings made on Audioboo, and download the Sonic Geographies eBook on Diffusion here. Keep track of the discussion online with the #cityasmaterial hash tag on Twitter.

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