Put The Needle On The Record #19 : San Francisco : 10112019

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.

From my sound diary 10112019: San Francisco. Had to be the walk from hotel to venue. sounds of vagrants, ‘mad’ people ranting to themselves. One throws a grim looking shoe at a passing colleague, draws blood, the colleague pleads “why you do that for?” Rolling luggage in a long walk back from the day room. But also from earlier in the day: an air show – the sound of jets, large and small, as we were running through crowds alongside a park

In this recording, note a few seconds of the delicate sound as we exit motel environment, then we hit the ‘real’ street. There is an early pause in the recording to check my wind cover (there was a fairly gentle breeze that day) and eventually I lose my wind cover somewhere along this street. Heavy grooves in the street on this recording as we trawled through and past many drug addicts and tramps. People seemingly living outside of society and existing in its dregs, with no-one looking out for them. While waiting to cross the street one tramp throws a shoe at someone walking past – and draws blood on her face? The victim calls out “What are you doing?”, while the other rants incoherently at her. Do they know each other? Who knows what was taking place. It seems they are somehow connected, and the pedestrian lights change so we walk on. You hear some car horns, some car engines, snatches of music playing from shops…I remember rolling over some metal grids that covered access to some basement windows, there were many manhole covers and metal panels, and of course the streets themselves which seemed ‘heavy’. This recording is a document of most of the trip back from the day room to the gig venue (The Regency Ballroom). A bonus section of video below covers the last two minutes of the journey, that bring us up to the venue.

A videoed section of Stutter Street, San Francisco.