Put The Needle On The Record #13 : Austin : 01102019

The histories of architecture in the city are ‘scrolls’ waiting to be discovered and ‘read’ (Calvino, 1972). While investigating these scrolls through the practice of walking the streets of the city accompanied by wheeled luggage, I have found a ‘stylus’ for reading the pavement topography, the skin of the city. The wheels of the luggage bag connect directly with the built environment, rather like putting the needle on a record: a record that is city-sized and can be played in any direction. This practice presents a way of recording, mapping, and sonifying the streets of the city. 

Put The Needle On The Record was created by Loz Colbert. Find out more about the project here.

On this day, I couldn’t quite believe the amount of life that was going on… but ‘low life‘. I hadn’t realised how run down Austin was where we were: vagrants, homeless, wandering the streets, helpless in many ways, and somehow abandoned. We were warned in the morning at breakfast by a local “don’t go beyond 6th Street..” Our venue was on 10th. It wasn’t the safest place to be. I remember rolling over paving slabs, rough broken concrete, rough grass and mud where I was trying to avoid other sections of paving. I recorded twice in this location, as it was very active at night everyone came out, prowling like edgy zombies. I sat down to eat a slice of pizza and people flocked to me as they could read I wasn’t from around here. I guess I was an outsider, an easy soft target. I can’t believe the hard lives that most of the people I saw must be living. So hard. A level of brutality is expected, anticipated in encounters. Situations have to be managed, as it all felt on a hair trigger… You get a sense of more of the street life during the night, although there was an ecosystem of homeless and drug addicts around throughout the day. You don’t hear anyone approach me in these recordings although they frequently did at other points during the day: asking for food or money. Not what I expected from Texas at all… maybe this is just where the music venues are….

No images or videos of the street today, and for a while I focused just on the sound recordings of the streets I was on…

Wheeled luggage on Red River street, Austin (Day).
Wheeled luggage on Red River street, Austin (Night).

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