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Jacek
Smolicki

Inaudible Cities (2019-)

What stories about the city can be revealed when our attention shifts from the central to peripheral, visual to sonic, from the extra- to infra-ordinary?

In Invisible Cities, through the character of Marco Polo, Italo Calvino introduces us to fifty five poetic descriptions of a city life. Despite the depiction of space, architecture, and everyday life practices as greatly diverse and incomparable to each other, within the course of this highly imaginative novel the reader gets a strange feeling that all stories might in fact pertain to a single city, Venice, which is Marco Polo's hometown.

Inspired by Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities, Inaudible Cities is an exploration of the suburbs of Stockholm resulting in a series of short stories describing diverse facets of the city life from the perspective of its peripheries. As aesthetic and critical modes of engaging with the place I turn to listening and creative audio-visual field recording techniques. The interest in urban peripheries is followed by an interest in peripheral sonic situations in which mundane elements of natural and cultural realms, infrastructures, and debris become leading actors and storytellers. Echoing the Oulipo's fascination with constrained techniques of writing, when exploring Stockholm suburbs, I follow a self-imposed set of instructions. As a structuring device I use the Stockholm subway map to visit all end stations on each line (thirteen in total). After getting off I spend maximum 130 minutes exploring each station's vicinity through intuitive wandering guided by my sense of hearing, and creative field recording and mapping techniques (including contact microphones, hydrophones, electromagnetic field detectors, binaural microphones, accompanies by photo camera, GPS receiver among other tools). For those who live at the end of the subway line, that final stop does not feel like the last, but the first one. Similarly to me, during my exploration the periphery becomes the center.

The development of the project can be followed on www.para-archives.net


The project was developed within the framework of Sound Diaries, a research project investigating sounds of everyday life hosted at Sonic Arts Research Center at Oxford Brookes University.










From the performance at Sound Diaries event in Oxford, Jam Factory, July 2019
Photo by Richard Bentley