More info about walking and discovering

Adventures in Sightlessness: Learning Resources with links.

Making sound maps exercise

During the 1970s, an acoustic ecology movement started in Canada, based on the ideas of R. Murray Schafer and his book ‘The Soundscape. The were interested in the soundscape of places and had ideas about noise pollution, but also about appreciating interesting or significant sounds. The fountain on Quadrant Arcade might be an example of a ‘Soundmark’. Some of the techniques they used to better understand soundscapes include Soundwalks and sound mapping.

Do some research into this and then invent a sound map for a place. What did you discover through this process? This might include practical outcomes about making a map, selecting a site and communicating the information, subjective information about your experience or new ideas about listening and sound.

Acousmatic exercise

To hear something without seeing its source. Sound and vision usually go together, but when we subtract one sense, things can be quite different.

Try watching some video clips with the sound off. Then reverse the process and remove the vision. Does this change the experience?

John Cage exercise

Cage created a famous musical performance called 4’33”, where no music is produced. Instead the audience listens to the sounds of their environment. As I understand it, he was making the point that we can appreciate the sound of the world in the same way that we can appreciate how the world looks.

Set a timer for 4’33” and concentrate on listening.

Dérive (Drift)

A Dérive is a sort of urban wandering, designed to discover new experiences in a city, as well as detecting ways that the city is ‘programmed’ to create particular types of experience. A tourist area might be an example of a programmed space – tourists areas offer entertaining experiences for newcomers, but are often focussed on maximising tourist spending and income for investors. French theorist Guy Debord wrote a book called Society of the Spectacle which seeks to critique advanced capitalism. Some of his concerns seem remarkably fresh and relevant today.

Henry David Thoreau was a great walker, or as he described it, saunterer. A seminal environmentalist, he made his life a political statement by retreating from city life to a cabin in the woods, and spending his time exploring the natural world. A skilled writer, he wrote several important books including ‘On the Duty of Civic Disobedience’ and this chapter titled Walking.

Drift and Saunter exercise

Go for an improvised walk of discovery of at least two hours, if not a day. See what you discover!

More reading about walking:

A Philosophy of Walking, by Fredric Gros

A Field Guide to Getting Lost, by Rebecca Solnit

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