It would be fair to say that most of the Still Walking festival programme is biased towards the visual. There are, however, a few notable exceptions; one of these is the Digbeth Listening Walk led by Liminal. Liminal are architect Frances Crow and sound artist and composer David Prior (David will be leading the Digbeth Listening Walk for us). They describe their work together as "exploring the relationship between sound, listening and the environment".
There we go biasing the visual again! Fortunately Sam made a few field recordings and the Liminal website has some videos that convey a sense of how they work with shifting our attention onto the noises that surround us and also shifting the sounds themselves.
I'm liking the circularity of this, because when I think of the sounds of Digbeth, I am also reminded of Sam's recent Sonic Graffiti project and these wonderfully atmospheric tracks made from field recordings around the area. These tracks are intended to be listened in the places whence they came, but here's a taster:
I've experienced Digbeth late at night after visiting different events; in the early hours of the morning as I embark on my walking projects; during the day as I schlepp back home from the city centre and I've also sat in VIVID for hours on end listening to the drone of the buses going down Heath Mill Lane. Yet I still don't really have a mental image (damn! there we go again!) of what Digbeth might sound like at 3 o'clock on a Friday afternoon. Will all the metal bashers still be at it, or will the factories have emptied for the weekend? Too early for the Friday-night revellers I expect, maybe also for the commuters making their way homewards?
Whatever the soundscape turns out to be, I'm looking forward to being given the excuse - and a few more skills - to pause and take notice of it.
The Digbeth Listening Walk takes place on Friday the 30th of March, 3-4:30pm. Hear you there.