Put The Needle On The Record #6 : Brooklyn : 21092019

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.

No travel today, and no luggage bag. Instead, free-walking with written sound diary entry, and a gallery below.

From my sound diary that day: “Brooklyn/New York. Police cars, my footsteps on the sidewalk on my way to meet {x}. Cars travelling along the Brooklyn Queens Expressway above me, as I walk beneath it. Later in the day we walk across the Brooklyn Bridge, and there is the sound of car tyres making a ‘popping’ sound as they hit and roll over over a metal grid at high speed, which is about 2/3 of the way along the bridge. In the heat of the day, the air in the tyres is fully expanded, and so the popping sound resonates in the air. It creates a punctuated, repetitive and rhythmic sound over what would otherwise be a whitewash’ of constant car movement and engine noise below. Entering the Subway… the noise of the subway train arriving, filling the air, filling the entire space with sound. Rising up and out into Times Square, the voices of the crowds and the traffic… Finally after having read about it, admired it been inspired by it, I arrive within range of the sphere of sound that is Max Neuhaus’ ‘Times Square’ piece. I could have spent hours there… As an intervention, Neuhaus has covertly set a drone to emanate from beneath one of the metal ventilation grids of the street. Having created a level of frequency and of volume, the effect is that all sound around interplays with the drone. Different types of sound both merge and separate with it, in ever-changing and curious ways. Voices are over taken by traffic noise, which may then quickly recede to leave the drone exposed on its own. I enjoyed way that the piece creates both a ‘base’ and ‘bass’ level, so that any ‘natural’ sound happens around the intervention piece and interacts with it. Natural sound for this area might be: the sound of crowds, both moving and stationary; the sound of sirens – emergency services, police; the sound of individual conversations – tourists and ‘locals’; sounds of shouts, exclamations, traffic noise. I had to get back in time for the ‘instore’, so we took a taxi back to Brooklyn, the main thing noticeable was how the level of overall noise ‘calmed down’ on that side of the river. Manhattan was now distant. However there was much intense noise in sirens and horns and shouts when a fire started in the restaurant we were eating in… and I remember the crackle of material being consumed in the vivid and violent flames, just as I got out.