Thursday, June 08, 2006

Performance: Audio Tourist

Guided through the city, simply to experience it, prioritising the sense of hearing over seeing and translating that which we hear into written language, Audio Tourist enables participants to experience Nottingham through sound, using our ears as instruments to amplify, and our minds as the tape to record the city around us.

On three Saturdays, April 29th, May 2oth and May 27th, as part of Sideshow, I conducted walks around the city centre of Nottingham, where the participants were asked to listen to the city, sending a text message every 10 minutes describing the sound that they could hear at that time. The walks traveresed a variety of places, focusing on different aspects of the city.

There were three walks available to participate in; Walk One left the immediate environs of the city centre, leaking out into the surrounding inner city suburbs, a plush, well-off area beneath the castle; Walk Two explored layers of verticality in the city, going up car parks, across and under bridges and in lifts.; Walk Three questioned the nature of public/private space in the city, going in and out of hotels, shopping and entertainment centres. The participants were not informed of these 'themes' before commencing the walk.

All the walks were 'designed' by myself, from a series of drifts (or derives) through Nottingham in the months preceeding the walks.

The participants were asked to use their mobiles to re-engage with the city space, unlike the normal use of the technology which displaces us into the a different space and distracts us from what is going on around us. They were requested not to answer calls or send any other text messages during the walk, as well as conducting the walk in silence.

I have had a lot of discussion with participants on the walks regarding the experience. Some found the action of sending the message allowed them to key into the sound around them, and brought the task back into the foreground. However others got increasingly frustrated with the futility of trying to translate what we can hear into written language, something which is incapable of relaying the experience fully. Some people also attended the walks without mobile phones, which meant that they did not participate in this task.

The text messages that the participants sent have been deleted without being read.

The decision to delete the messages was made before the walks were designed; participants were not informed of this. I felt that it would alter the relationship with the texting process if they knew that it was not going to be read.

There is no documentation from the walks, they exist entirely in the memories of those that participated in them. There was to be no use of cameras of any form on the walk, so there are no images of the events.

I would be very interested in any correspondance with particpants of the walks (or others) regarding this work, if you'd like to do so you can add a comment to this post or email me on lucy(at)

I would also like to thank all those that came on the walks and a special thanks my assistants: Gayle, Ed, Rachel, Judi and Katie.

Review by Gayle Pollard click here