1. What was the experience of soundwalking through London like?

April 27, 2009 at 9:58 am (Artists Statement & Reflection, Main Derives)

After embarking on several journeys, I found it much easier to slip into a focused state of listening. Ears ‘open’, I found that my sensitivity towards my surroundings was amplified. This could also be attributed to the fact that I had no other objective on the journeys than to simply experience the environments I passed through and absorb them.


The journeys themselves were interesting for me, in that I travelled through locations I had not yet set foot in. Just as my experience of physical space was a process of discovery, my aural experience was too. I would follow distant sounds, trying to uncover their whereabouts by navigating spaces with my ears. On occasions I’d decide to investigate spaces that might have interesting acoustics. Other times I would be drawn simply by the architecture of the space, or even just the feeling it seemed to emanate. Sometimes these decisions would yield interesting results, other times the interest would reveal itself indirectly; each decision made would effect the location and point in time I would find myself in next, so every decision, in a sense, was an important one.


The chance occurrences of seemingly separate sounds during my journeys were stimulating. During my trails along the Thames Path, I remember getting this overwhelming sense of simply being; the things that were happening at that particular moment in time, at that specific location, as experienced by me, appeared so clearly before me. There was nothing within my perception that made me aware of anything other than the very moment I was experiencing.


Every moment in time felt like it was being solidified by the sound I was listening to, it felt like it was grounding my experience. Time seemed to dissolve; memory & imagination, slowly drifting into the background of the present, lived experience. Part of me had become lost within that fleeting moment of clarity, but another was found; constructions of Self gave way to a more lucid being, a being ready to absorb experience of the Now. It felt almost like slipping from a passive dream-state into a lucid one; the veil concealing consciousness is lifted, the present revealed in all it’s vivid detail.


This reminds me of something Hildegard Westerkamp said about soundwalking during her lecture at Goldsmiths. When on a soundwalk, after a while, one can begin to feel that the environment and oneself are not separate, but rather the environment is an extension of oneself. I think she was hinting at the kind of interconnectedness one can experience when immersed within a sound environment and ones sense are open. This perhaps is another way of describing my soundwalking experience; the feeling of losing ones self and being absorbed in an environment, an experience.


Today, at the Southbank, I tried listening to the sounds that surrounded me intensely, closing my eyes. If one stays absolutely still and simply listens for a while, I believe one can start to feel absorbed within the sonic environment that surrounds them. This in turn reveals an awakened state of perception whereby experience of the environment becomes richer, more detailed; visual perception and aural perception retain a balance once more and experience feels more whole.


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