This week the winners and honourable mentions in the Sound Walk September 2021 Awards were announced. Chosen by a jury made up of Advisory Board members, from the shortlist of 13 pieces they whittled it down to two winners and two honourable mentions.
The winners of the 2021 Sound Walk September Awards are both based in the USA!
Come Sunday is a beautifully orchestrated and thought-out portrait of the rich cultural heritage of Portland, Oregon, put together by Darrell Grant and commissioned by Third Angle New Music. The listening experience consists of music and a huge range of interviews which are set to a walk between houses of worship. The audio production is extremely high, enhanced by a gentle marimba note to denote the synchronisation for the points on the route.
Darrell creates an arresting, interesting, and even powerful aural journey that weaves a narrative of the changing communities in this area, and the effects of gentrification. It tells remarkable oral histories, and sets them with music that enhances, expands and continues the stories. The music is not just a filler, or there to enhance the experience, it’s a part of the culture and continues the story by itself. The piece creates a powerful connection with the place and its history, and is an important piece of oral history. It stands in its own right, also when just listened to as an audio documentary.
Where am I? A Dislocated Soundwalk
In Where Am I? A dislocated soundwalk, Viv Corringham captures the disjointed experience of physically being in space as our thoughts drift and take us elsewhere.
Imagine taking a routine walk and observing habitual sights while listening to an audio guide that leads us to unfamiliar voices, landscapes, and sounds; fragmented conversations, descriptions of seemingly mismatched and impossible routes like a train passing through a Tokyo train station to a Long Island Beach.
Even if we are physically anchored to a familiar walking trail, a high street, a public park, or possibly listening to Where Am I? at home, the evocative panoramic collection of sounds transports us to real and imagined places. Viv poignantly conjures the emotional, physical, and intellectual dislocation of the pandemic by inviting us to be ‘misguided.’
Through questions and prompts that summon memories and activate nostalgia and imagination, Where am I? provokes the disjuncture between the past, the present and the future by inviting us to find solace and adventure in the (un)familiar.
Bristoler Chronik, a soundwalk by Cliff Andrade, explores issues of identity, biography, and class, by wandering through the neighborhood of his former home and connecting it to his current home, reflecting on his experiences as a student at university.
Wandering with purpose, Andrade calls back the ghosts of a former time, asking questions about bias, racism, generational wealth, biculturalism, and the role which ‘place’ and ‘society’ have in constructing our sense of self.
The SWS jury found Bristoler Chronik approachable and generous, at times hesitating and doubting, and conveying a sense of intimacy to the listener. The soundwalk draws on numerous other voices to deepen a sense of mobility in relationship to place, teasing out the ways in which memory is mapped onto the spaces we inhabit, and challenging a single monumental story about Britishness. The jury felt the work fulfilled numerous criteria important to Sound Walk September. The work is accessible and reveals unheard voices, it addresses critical current issues of inequality and identity.
Site is intrinsic to the work, as we hear the sonic footprint of Andrade’s travels, and recognize that place can amplify and reanimate memory.
Collision & Conflict
Collision & Conflict is a deftly considered soundwalk that steps us around a section of Hadrian’s wall in Northumberland, Cumbia, through the eyes, ears and hearts of 14 commissioned artists. It is a Green Croft Arts community project that is built on the back of the Echoes platform using GPS triggered sound fields on mobile phones.
Born out of an iconic landscape already hewn in stone, stories, sounds and songs, each of the 9 stops en-route drills down into the site in a variety of ways: whether musings on the migratory path of birds from Africa to Cumbria, to a creative commentary on the symbolism of control and conquest that all such walls embody, or an acoustic dive into the world of Syrian bows and Roman archers.
If each of the artist’s responses to the site is a project unto itself, the group work as a whole with Hadrian’s Wall being the omnipresent backdrop. Collision & Conflict reminds us of the power such sites can still exert on us after thousands of years, and it shows their potential for inspiration in the ever-dynamic play of soundwalks today.
Thanks to Babak Fakhamzadeh for writing the bulk of this post!