Video and Sound Week 1: Soundwalk Response

I chose to go on John Luther Adams’ Soundwalk 9:09, from the Met Breuer to the the Metropolitan Museum of Art (Uptown) and back again (Downtown).

The Start (or the end):


Notes I took on the Uptown walk:

  • Sound of my own footsteps

  • I can still hear the cars

  • Other people’s footsteps 

  • Distant sirens in recording, lonely because no one else can hear it

  • Jingling of dog tags

Notes I took on the Downtown walk

  • Sound of water rushing from the fountains at the start

  • The sound of the street sometimes overtakes the audio of the soundwalk—e.g. man with a leaf blower

  • I notice all the people wearing headphones

  • How would this feel on a sunny day?

  • It’s so ominous with this fog

  • Construction and siren sounds in the recording sometimes line up perfectly with construction and siren sounds in real life

  • I don’t know why but I am really focused on the smells on this walk—people’s cologne, wet leaves, gasoline from the street. Everything seems sharper in the rain. 

  • I feel less in the world because I’m focusing so hard on the audio

  • I wore really clack-y shoes. They’re like a metronome to this whole thing.

The End (or the start)


Overall, while I found the experience of the soundwalk interesting, I didn’t find it to be particularly evocative. The audio felt ominous, but I would like to try it on different days and in different weather, to see if the audio itself or just the gloomy day was responsible for me feeling that way. During the walks, I felt suspended in a manner that wasn’t really moving to me— the audio was neither entirely immersive, nor sufficiently benign in a way that allowed me to focus on the external ambient sounds. The moments that I liked the most were those with the distant siren/construction sounds, because I felt they connected me to the experience of being in the world as I walked from location to location— an experience from which I was otherwise somewhat divorced. Still, I enjoyed having time specifically reserved to observe a part of the city with all its moving parts, and to notice how my mood and observations were affected by what I was listening to.

Raw audio for my group’s soundwalk project can be found here:

Video+Sound, ITPCaroline Neel