Boundary Songs at Performance Space

Duncan Speakman (an audio walker from Bristol in the UK) was in residence at the Performance Space in Sydney in August/September making a walk of Redfern. Performance Space is bringing back the audio walk for a second season in its Spring Block so go and walk the walk (as they say)!

You can pick up a headset from the lobby of Carriageworks:
Sat 25 Oct – Sat 29 Nov
Wed-Sat 12-6PM
FREE – see the Performance Space website for more info

The blurb goes: Boundary Songs is a series of micro-sound walks in the Redfern area. These mixtures of music, sound design and spoken word are recreations of moments in the lives of local residents. The stories on each walk interlink, like a series of short films with no screens, where the world around you becomes a cinema.

I walked Boundary Songs on a very wet and windy day a few weeks ago – it was a handful, keeping track of umbrella, map, mp3 player… But there is nothing like the live mix of the soundtrack and the patter of water pinging overhead, to remind you that this is a live experience. It is only partly the recording, and partly its congruences and interactions with you and your walk in the world.

I think that Boundary Songs is a slightly different kind of audio walk for Duncan, and different from ones I have gone on before: it wasn’t a continuous walk, embedded in a land- or city-scape; a combination of touristic guide, instructions on where to go or what to look at, and fictional or semi-fictional storytelling. Boundary Songs is a collection of several short walks that interconnect in some sense, but you finish one, return to the normal world, and walk to the next: you can do them in any order. I would call them soundscapes for walking. The storytelling is backgrounded, at times a submerging part of the soundscape which is composed from sounds sampled on site. The recordings serve more to create an atmosphere, an emotional or sensory framework, from which to view the chosen streets of Redfern.

The walks also highlight what a contested, complicated and misunderstood site Redfern is – their disjointedness is perhaps an inevitable result of Duncan Speakman’s very outsider position. What observations or connections can an Englishman make in a few weeks’ artist residency? But they also provoked me to want to know more of the histories piled high beneath the bitumen and renewed gentrification of the suburb, and behind the symbol that ‘Redfern’ has become across Australia.

If you have never gone on an audio walk before, or if you have, or if you are really into ambient sound… or if you are interested in notions of place, or if you want to experience how just the act of listening can make you see, taste and touch the world differently, go check out Boundary Songs.

For more about Duncan Speakman, go to his website.