Having attended a couple of the First Monday Sound Salon sessions organised by Andrew Stuck, I’m slowly getting my head around the idea of geolocated sound and audio walks. With the help of friends I’m going to create an audio walk.
Several of my fellow travellers recommended trying “And While London Burns”, which is described as an operatic audio tour. You download three audio files to your phone, grab your headphones and head for Bank underground.
This is a well-produced piece, funded by the Arts Council. It’s now about 10 years old, so the problem is that the built environment of the city has changed.
It starts near Bank underground station on the lower ground floor of No.1 Poultry. From the station head for exit 9, past The Drain (Waterloo & City line) and the orange escalators to stand in the middle of the atrium. The walk says Starbucks, but Starbucks has gone. Then you follow the instructions in the Act 1 mp3 file and go back and up the orange escalators.
The next building is behind a hoarding, so I never got to see the Temple of Mithras. I filmed beside it for my 10 second video to show a major problem with the gentle quiet audio recording. The noise in the street is deafening. Earlier, standing inside the atrium, the noise of sirens, buses and an alarm going off meant that I had to replay the start.
The instructions were a bit vague, so I soon got lost. The idea is interesting, but the second problem it threw up was the need for belt and braces clear directions. Having abandoned Act 1, I moved on to Act 2 which starts with “See the statue of the man in the chair…” I had to do a Google search to find him. They could have added “Behind the Royal Exchange, opposite 60 Threadneedle Street”. After that I was OK on the ground, but the content was a moan about BP and the people who fund it. Since I enjoy the luxury of gas central heating, drive a small car, use electricity and rely on diesel powered lorries to deliver food to the local shops – it would be hypocritical to comment. We are all part of the problem, and almost everybody would agree that we need to go easy on the planet. On the way home a headline in the Evening Standard read: “London is the top city in Europe for private jet flights.”
Despite my criticism this is an interesting idea, and worth a try on that basis.