Travelling from London to Oxford for the first day of the Documenting Sound workshop at Audiograft 2012 I was reading a small text about shock – Benjamin, On Some Motifs in Baudelaire – in The Everyday Life Reader by Ben Highmore. I began listening to the density of sounds around me that affected my actions directly i.e. sounds which I had [?] to perceive in order to avoid collisions, or to connect with complex mechanisms and information systems. I tried to record every such instance between Kings Cross and Paddington using a voice recorder on my phone.
Two examples here of a bus conductor’s radio conversation and the bleeping of oyster cards at the tube entrance give an idea of the low quality of the content I captured which seems in some way appropriate.
The 50 or so clips have been put in sequence and the total 15 minutes of sound sped up / reduced to a 1 minute clip to give a bar-code like illustration of the journey. It would be interesting to experiment with other ways of composing these sound clips in order to think about the rhythm of perpetual shocks I experienced. I would also like to repeat the process and set more specific rules for recording different types of sonic encounter in crowded urban environments and specifically think about what spaces are available for silence, contemplation or indeed for conversation within [London’s] urban transport space – i.e. what pockets of time can be considered free from the impact of sensory signals and information that in some way demand a [conscious] response.
Shock/Rhythm by Toby O’Connor
This post is by Toby O’Connor, who participated in the Documenting Sound workshop held at Audiograft 2012 by Felicity Ford and Valeria Merlini