Saturday, November 25, 2006

Sounds of the City

The latest issue of the Chicago Reader ran a little blurb in their free shit section about an audio tour of the Loop. Folks can download an MP3 and listen on an MP3 player while touring the Loop. Another option is to use the interactive map from the comfort of your own home. Of course the Chicago Loop Alliance is only presenting limited sights and sounds that will fit into a boosterist vision of the city but I'm glad to see the city catching up with some of the soundwalk options that are becoming available outside the art world.

For folks who aren't hip to this stuff, Hildegard Westerkamp argues that we focus so heavily on visual culture that we have neglected ou ears; we don't listen closely to the world around us. She has written some interesting articles about the art of the soundwalk. In short, the idea is to move through the city (for the purposes of this blog) and pay attention to the sounds around us. What I like about her work is that she encourages us to layer those sounds (i.e., first listen to sounds that are closer then sounds that are distant, listen to sounds that are quiet then listen to the differences in louder sounds, etc.). So the point is to begin to hear the range of sounds that fill the urban soundscape.

I've got more to say about this general issue but will stop here. Take care.

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