A London, Ontario couple hopes to capture the spirit of the city for future generations through a series of audio recordings.
London Soundscapes: Echoes of the Anthropocene aims to produce an acoustic time capsule that reflects how areas of London sound today. The shots will be staggered over different seasons and taken in places of environmental or cultural importance to allow the project to paint a more diverse picture of the city.
Organizer Brendon Samuels and sound manager Caleb Crowe are the co-organizers of the project.
“Sound is always changing,” Samuels said. “And these changes reflect a lot of other things happening in the environment and with people that we don’t always notice in our everyday lives.”
Samuels said these changes are also long-term, reflecting things like biodiversity decline, growth and development, demographic shifts and more.
“One shot we took recently was at 101 Meadowlily Road South where there is an upcoming housing development. That was quite controversial and the community really made an effort to influence that development.”
He hopes that in the future anyone who wants to examine the London of 2022 and compare it to what they are experiencing can do so.
Caleb Crowe (left) and Brendon Samuels (right) record at the Sun Festival (contributed by Brendon Samuels)
The decision to focus on sound rather than a visual medium for the time capsule was not taken lightly, according to Crowe.
“Sound is something that is ubiquitous but often overlooked or underheard. When we see something, we often break it down visually into unique objects, but when we hear something, it really comes to us as a unified whole,” Crowe said. “It seemed like a way to get people to reconnect with environments they are familiar with but encounter them in a new way.”
The idea of getting people to reconnect and listen to their surroundings is also something Samuels and Crowe hope will spark engagement.
“One thing we’re asking for the public’s help is when they listen to the video, we want to know what they’re hearing and how they’re feeling. As such, people are encouraged to leave comments on the video footage, which is on YouTube,” Samuels said.
The first 3 field recordings for London Soundscapes can now be heard on YouTube: https://t.co/JTpsIGZZ1F
1. Killally Meadows ESA
2nd Sun Festival in Victoria Park
3. 101 Meadowlily Rd S (pre-development)
When the time capsule is sent to the western library, these comments will be included as humans are part of the London soundscape.
Samuels and Crowe both agree that the recording process for the project was fulfilling and some of their recordings are personally meaningful.
“We were invited by property management to go to the roof of an abandoned warehouse in East London. A migratory bird called the chimney swift congregates there,” said Samuels, a graduate student studying birds. “This year we went back and decided we wanted to put the mics right at the base of the chimney so you can actually hear the birds circling and diving.”
Crowe’s favorite experience came from a recording location called the Banana Kingdom along the Thames Valley Parkway, where a chorus of insects makes for interesting noises.
“It’s an area that I’ve often wandered aimlessly into and been amazed at how beautiful it sounds, so just capturing that and working to process the final video was deeply enjoyable.”
The project is funded by the City of London and the London Arts Council.
London Soundscapes: Echoes of the Anthropocene can be heard on YouTube and Instagram.