Ximena Alarcon (London College of Communication - University of the Arts London)
Paper short abstract:
Sounding Underground is a virtual environment that links commuter’s sonic memories of journeys in three underground public transport systems: London, Paris and Mexico City. The interface and architecture were the result of ethnographic and creative research with participants in each city.
Paper long abstract:
Sounding Underground is a virtual environment that links commuter’s sonic memories of journeys in three underground public transport systems: London, Paris and Mexico City. Commuters’ memories and imaginations are represented in sounds and images that have been selected by volunteer commuters through an ethnographic process. Through conversations, recordings, photography and interactive practice participants were involved in a process of remembering the multi-sensorial experience of commuting, accessing to it through listening as an embodied practice. Listening provided an immersion as if in an urban underground ritual that brought awareness of the relationship established with the machinery, the spatial structure, the other passengers, nature and themselves. The underground acted as a technological infrastructure for remembering what is forgotten but accumulated within the routine experience. The multimedia narrative is driven by the sounds selected by each participant, which are overlapped in between spatial categories, creating sonic encounters of many unrelated people sharing an everyday infrastructure. In the virtual space, each metro, considering the relationships between distinct sounds, brings its uniqueness finding also shared sonic spaces with the other cities. The image is suggesting London’s industrial texture, colours of rural-urban Mexico City and the iconic Parisian light as poetic cultural traces that serve the access to the interface. This work uses the Internet as a vehicle and metaphor for an underground transport system. The environment creates spaces to navigate through, provoking a defamiliarization of a symbolic urban infrastructure by means of a virtual one.
Film, audio and multimedia programme: symbiosis: sound, vision and the senses