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 18092019: Waking up in Canada, Montreal: the quiet of the residential street (from inside the sound proofing of the bus). the air brakes repeatedly flushing as the bus driver sought to park accurately. The sound of the coffee machine as it boiled water, and the frustrating silence of it as I worked out how to get it to make coffee. Crunch of cereal in a polystyrene bowl eaten with a plastic spoon when you are the first one up and the cereal is crunchy. Sounds of traffic passing by, and the horn of the bus that disagreed with the way our driver pulled out in front of him. Luggage bag: Started in the venue and went outside and around on the streets at night time, leading back up to our bus.
In this luggage bag recording you can hear me leaving the ‘The Fairmount’ venue, after the night’s gig. I pull across the empty venue floor in front of the empty stage, and then lumber down the stairs of the venue with my luggage bag. Once outside, I walk Park Avenue to make a ‘record’ of the streets near the venue. Street surfaces in Montreal appear to be structured and organised; the ‘sidewalks’ are interspersed with iron covers masking entry to underground utilities. There are also iron grids around the tree fixtures, that regularly punctuate the street line. There is a distinctly ‘municipal’ feel to the street environment; the experience during the day was welcoming and quaint. But strangely at night the street felt inhospitable, tense, the streets were practically empty and even had a hint of (unknown) danger to them. Now, the municipal qualities now seem odorous and mocking. In fact the sound of the idling tour bus engine is reassuring when I eventually return to it and get on…