Put The Needle On The Record #17 (Part #2) : Seattle : Image and imagined sound

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.

We’ve been thinking about styli, architecture, and sound. We’ve been thinking of the city as a record, the world as a playable ‘record’ – so it seems perfect to present this image I came across in a dressing room Seattle. Imagine: what would this recording sound like?

Track 2: Mike Klay (screen print, 2009)

In Mike Klay’s image, a screen print titled ‘Track 2’, the famous landmark of the Space Needle is taken as a literal needle. ‘Needle’ of course as we know is a homonym that also signifies ‘stylus’ in popular culture. Mike playfully imagines the Space Needle as a giant stylus, playing a giant record (or a shrunk Space Needle playing an actual record). If I was looking for an image to feed into my abstract thoughts of needles, styli, city sounds, architecture, landscape and playing the city at the time – then this would be it. It is also worth noting the connection Mike places between landscape and soundscape. The topographic physical landscape is directly above what could be waveforms of sound, or indeed other form of the landscape: grass, trees… It is a beautiful synaesthetic puzzle of architectonic and musical slippage, visual and textural puns.

This image is a great metaphor for some of the emphasis I am placing on exploring sound, architecture, the built environment, and potential styli for the sounding of each. Next we are off to Portland.