19: Cockatoo Island

I'm now over a week deep into the Urban Islands design workshop, working with Geoff Manaugh of BLDG BLOG and 15 other students to devise a tarot card deck and some proposals for Cockatoo Island from that deck. Cockatoo Island is a former shipbuilding facility and convict prison in the middle of Sydney Harbour. Since its closure in the 1990s it has been the subject of much speculation.

I am bringing to the workshop a desire to document and project sonically the environment on Cockatoo. I wish to make architecture out of sound, to build turbine halls and warehouses and glacial canyons out of sound. Cockatoo Island is the first illicit commission to do so.

Four days ago I took the audio tour and I was struck by the simultaneous experiences--one virtual, of the audio tour, and the other real. Often canned sounds of seagulls would intermix with actual seagulls. (are they communicating?) A low hum in the background would be unsettling in that I didn't know if it was the tour or if it was real, until I removed the headset.

I'm interested in audio tours because they suggest alternate realities that coexist with ours. My quest, then, is to produce an audio tour that isn't so prescriptive, yet opens up a dialogue with a place.

This may be where Soundscrapers is trending--to produce audio tours for each place that I visit... A collection of military audio tours.

This is not yet an audio tour. Listen: