SF Lunchwalk: Attack and Decay

Four Recent Lunchwalks
Attack and Decay are technical terms known to sound editors and synth musicians, but the concept is also intrinsic to urban walking.  "Attack" is the initial rise of a particular sound and "Decay" is the falling away of the sound from its peak to a normal or "sustained" volume.   Doors open and the clamor of a restaurant rushes out (attack); someone walks in, shutting the door behind them (decay) but listening closely, the sound of the restaurant remains.

If we think of the city as an infinite sound library, the library is perused by walking through it.  Sounds rise and fall and blend together in the great mixing chamber which is the street.  I am interested in the ability of the city to edit its own sound.  The sound-makers engage in the space of the street, all competing to vibrate air molecules.  Air is resilient; like a spring, it receives the initial burst of sound energy and then recoils (decays) until the sound disappears.

Since my last post with sound, I have recorded four hours of sound from four lunch-hour walks, continuing this series where I take a walk through the city instead of eating lunch.  Listening back through the sound recordings, I am pulled in two directions.  One, I have ideas to snip up the recording and reconstruct the walk as an edited soundscape.  The other direction is to isolate only certain moments where it appears as though the city has done the mixing for me.  This latter case is explored in the following track.  Listen:

The track is unedited.  It is simply what I (or the microphones) heard over a 2 minute time-span, using elements of the city (doors cracked open, hills, different sized streets) to "edit" the sound.


SF Lunchwalk: Smokestack

Walking every week, with every chance I get.  My feet vault me out of a sedentary habit (we are what we repeatedly do) into the unique opportunity of an urban walk, latent with unexpected encounters.  Encounters, such as the sight of this smokestack somewhere north of the lunch hour ground zero.  I marvel at its unlikely location, amid the housing and workplaces.  Surely it cannot still be in use.  Do its neighbors consider it a historic resource, a neighborhood landmark?  What if it is in use, but for a use not originally intended...

The smokestack is a non sequitur, a rather large and prominent form nestled within a residential, low-rise neighborhood.  Surely, some research would tell its story.  But the point is not to know where this smokestack came from or its historical use.  The lunchwalker on the go is all eyes and ears to the sidewalk unfolding beneath the feet; no time to research on a smartphone.  Even the excuse of wanting to just "be there" aside, there is more reason to disregard the histories of structures and spaces along the walk: the forms of the city are opened to fresh interpretation.

Ceci n'est pas un smokestack.  It is a vent for a vast subterranean vault.  A wind pipe for a geological organ.  An observation post to collect ambient neighborhood sound.  Let the city try and preserve all of its artifacts.  I can create and destroy them at will.

The lunchwalker embeds a set of desires unto a set of inert objects.  The set of desires is not alien to the walking environment, not fabricated beforehand, but generated along the walk, activated by the sounds present and alive there.

Do not walk to see what the city is.  Walk to see what the city can be.  Walk, to make the city anew.