In Hear, Out there: VIDEO DOCUMENT

“In Hear, Out there: Yokohama” explored the urban green belt surrounding the Yokohama Stadium. The site was originally expected to serve the city in one particular manner: to accommodate the stadium’s pedestrian traffic. However, the space has been renegotiated by the surrounding community and has become a centre for a diverse number of activities. Furthermore, this alteration to use, adaptation of place, occurs continually throughout the day, week, month or beyond. The work acknowledged this phenomenon and provided sound document of it. This evidence was then distributed throughout the stadium site, providing the participant with an ability to spatially explore the many temporal faces of park complex whilst making a comparison with the present condition. 

Document of a locative sound project entitled “In Hear, Out there: Yokohama”. Sound is presented binaurally and represents that heard by a participant navigating through the Yokohama Stadium complex, Japan. The work utilised a mobile device with GPS capability.

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Gallery show highlights (ZAIM, Yokohama)

Symposium Highlights (Sept 20 -21st)

The seminar took place in ZAIM, Yokohama on the 20th and 21st of september. In attendance were various practitioners in the field of ‘locative art’ practice from Japan, Uk and further afield. I’ll briefly summarize some of the talks and ideas presented within this session.

Vensha Christ, an Indonesian based sound artist, spoke about his work and associated art organisation “HONF” (see http://www.natural-fiber.com/about.html).It was commented that his portfolio is very much in response to the social/political conditions within Indonesia and thus raises the question of how this work then impacts an international audience not familiar with the locale. In particular, how the wording used in description, such as “control” and “bureaucracy” although understood, mean very different things from nation to nation.

A representative of Proboscis (www.proboscis.org.uk) spoke about the organisations creative output. In particular, projects such as “Snout” in which traditional carnival characters armed with sensing devices were sent out into the city to theatrically investigate the environmental conditions of the host city and “Urban Tapestries” which provides a platform to attach multi-media content to location through a mobile device and then share this with other users. Proboscis see many of their works as providing communities with the tools to create “evidence” of their environments and through deliberation upon and presentation of this information they can insight change within these locales.

From this talk several points were made:
– The lifespan of locative media work, difficult for individuals post ‘event’ to experience the work or even understand it. Problems with shifting to differing media upon achieve.
– People are already in possession of ethnographic tools: the mobile telephone provides these
– Environmental sensors just give numbers, it is a citizen’s understanding that can transform this into context/content

Open city described their investigation into ‘Stillness’ within the everyday urban centre and how we are conditioned to feel this to be inappropriate – creating blockage and disturbance. Their work is organized public intervention – asking participants to stop at traffic lights far too long or stand in mass swaying – through this absurdity they bring the patterns of everyday into focus. They comment that technology has provided a permission for stillness – the individual stops to answer their mobile phone or take photos (the tourist).

It is commented that Open city grants the individual permission to be ‘still’ and independent from the mass through instruction (delivered through ipod) – hence, a new form of control – a strange contradiction.

Exonemo spoke mainly of their work entitled “The Road Movie” which involved artist from Japan and Germany touring through Japan working with varying groups along the way. On-line participants could download a specially created origami bus onto which images from outside the real bus were printed. These images were updated regularly. Check: http://exonemo.com/RM/index.html for more detail.

Matt from Blast Theory introduced their work which mainly takes the form of city-wide narrative based gaming which utilizes personal devices such as the mobile phone. In particular he spoke of two ‘events’: “Day of the figurines” where plot content was delivered to participants through sms and “Rider Spoke” which explored areas in the city where individuals could ‘hide’ from surveillance/signal – particularly wireless coverage. From this discussion Matt provided an interesting statistic: Regarding participation within locative games – 90% are ‘watchers’, 9% provide a small contribution and 1% a very detailed contribution. Matt also referenced Matthew Charmers and his ideas upon ‘seamlessness’ where complications and limitations in the technology utilised become facets within the game – they are not eradicated or dampered but illuminated. 

Drew Hemment curator of the FutureSonic Festival, Manchester spoke of this event and the recent works that have been exhibited through it. The art output of this festival is always in description of the urban location and the social actions delivered within this environment particularly those mediated through technology. Of most interest was Drew’s discussion upon the complications of attempting such a festival – of gaining access and permission to utilize public space. He suggests that these administrative efforts help expose the hidden bureaucracy in operation within these centres – and are thus works within themselves.

Day 19: Going Underground

I’ve been staying in Shinjuku which is the corporate hub of Tokyo – hence, home to an array of astounding skyscraper buildings. The area really does seem like gotham city! Check this image for proof:

… and this hasn’t been p-shopped either!!

What i found most bizarre about the area is that the majority of buildings, which stand several km apart, can be reached from the central station through a series of underground walkways. Hence, for me to get to my hotel i never had to step above ground. The wider expanses towards the end of journey were also utilized by the homeless population in times of bad weather. One evening i would say around 200 hundred residents were down there – seeking refuge beneath the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building.

Here is a sort sample from my walk, its slightly bare of content… just as the walkway itself, serving only as a throughway to another place and not really a ‘place’ in itself.

Day 14: JR jingle

When i first got here, riding around tokyo on the JR routes, i noticed that each station stop seemed to play a different little jingle. I was informed that this was the case – they all have their own theme tune. What’s more i was told that i could buy keyrings which played my favorites station’s sound. I got incredibly excited at this prospect – and on my way through Shibuya i went on a hunt. I never found the illusive keyrings!

….. well today i finally did! they’re not cheap but who cares.

hence, in celebration here is a sound snippet of the train arriving into shibuya with the jingle played in the closing 30seconds. enjoy.

Day 12: Uneme Matsuri

Sunday was the ‘harvest moon’ here – hence the Uneme Matsuri took place in Nara. I was lucky to be there on that date – my luck really has been in the last couple of days. The ritual marks the suicide of Uneme who drowned in the lake where the performance takes place. She was left broken hearted when the emperor found a new love. The sound sample is of the music that accompanied two dragon boats crossing the lake.

Day 11: Releasing of the Fish

I have moved over to Kyoto where i was lucky to stubble upon a buddhist ceremony happening down on the river where a gathered crowd partook in chants and prayer and the releasing of many fish into the river. The sound i have here today is of that ceremony which was fascinating. I have to say though – another great sight for me were the many eagles hovering above at the time – however this is not good news for the fish.


Day 10: In Hear, Out there: Yokohama work complete

Yesterday i finished the creation of the GPS audio walk that is to be the greatest output from this “In Hear, Out there” Japan visit. The work can be ‘experienced’ by booking out one of two IPaqs from the Zaim Arts Lab in Yokohama and then taking this to the Stadium parkland. You will then be able to navigate through a diverse palette of sounds that coexist to create one soundscape: that of the stadium park. The sounds represent the stadium grounds at different times of day, on differing days and at differing point in space. Hence, they show that the area is many places at once: the site of a baseball game, a pop concert, a school lesson, a home to the homeless, a performance space for taiko drummers, a nest to pigeons and the cicada…

I will describe this work in more detail over the coming days. In the meantime if you are in Tokyo or Yokohama do drop in and try the work – its available until next sunday (21st sept).

Day 10: China Town

Here is a sample taken from a walk through Yokohama’s China town – which i believe is the biggest in Japan. Its a fantastic place which looks great day and night. There is so much stuff packed into such a small area. The tangle of electricity lines running through the site are a spectacle in themselves. Like many Japanese shopping areas, it is full of electronic sounds and tannoys.

I’ve moved over to Nara for a couple of days now which is home to many Buddhist shrines and temples. Hence, expect a far calmer sound palette up on this site.

Day 8: Baseball!!

Here’s a sound sample of an enthusiastic crowd singing their team on from fridays’ Yokohama Baystars Baseball game. I believe that they won but i can’t remember who the other team were… hmm…