Sounds of the City

According to De Certeau, the view that comes from above, as in maps, plans and satellite views, functions to serve a “totalizing” aim. In contrast, walking, similar to a speech act, can counter dominant discourses and practices. The view of the map is taken as homogenenizing, impersonal, disembodied and distanced. Listening, as well as speaking, as inherently embodied acts are believed to withold the power to resist the impersonifying effects and claims of objectification that have been associated with visual modes of representation.

Sounds of the City is an interactive media installation designed by Gokce Kinayoglu in collaboration with Wenhua Shi and exhibited as part of the Orienting Istanbul Conference at UC Berkeley in 2008. It seeks to explore and transcend the polarization between the auditory and visual by overlaying the map view with sound recordings. These recordings, collected from various locations in and around Istanbul, are represented by bubbles rising to the air from the map. They can be agitated with the help of the laser-wands until they eventually pop, releasing sounds of the city into the exhibition space. More users pointing at the same bubble cause it to pop faster, making user participation and collaboration part of the play.

Recording credits: Gokhan Kinayoglu.