Audible Terrain: A day of SoundCulture (continued)

Kathy Kennedy's "The Blue Pathway"

On a busy Saturday afternoon in a fairly ordinary Californian outdoor shopping mall, a small low-power radio transmitter sits in a tree near the center. About 15 performers tune their portable radios to the frequency of the transmitter, and position themselves somewhat sparsely around the walkways. Each performer also has an instrument (a woman to my left sings; Oliver Di Cicco, the instrument designer, plays his "neo-bullroarer;" a woman sits behind me loudly chewing carrots and spitting watermelon seeds; another across from me plays a flute.) As a tape plays through the transmitter, the performers react to one another, to the broadcast sound coming from their radios, to the environment as a whole.

Unsuspecting shoppers wonder what is going on: they stop to read signs which explain that this is a soundwalk composition, meant to awaken new perspectives of listening.

These elements create a light sonic web - a subtly new acoustic matrix which draws our ears. A voice speaks to us from the radios:

Listen, listen - Listen! what do you hear around you? Footsteps. The hushed mumbling of the other walkers... The wind in the trees. On your face. Crackling of pebbles and branches under your feet. The distant roar of industry, technology, progress. Listen, listen - Listen! The sound of your breath as you walk. You can even hear your own clothes make noise; cotton, leather, and nylon rubbing against each other as you move. Listen, listen - Listen. Cage is known to have said that when he entered the sound vacuum he could still hear the sound of his own nervous system, and of the blood flowing through his veins. Are you trying? Can you hear that? Keep on - and don't even bother to look in front of you. You don't really need to find where you want to go. Let your instincts steer you through the trees, from a dark place to a light one, from a cluttered, enclosed space to a clearing.
Keep on. That's what we have to do most naturally, on all levels. Find for ourselves a path that leads to clarity.


- a slight transformation of space.

This is not an everyday shopping experience...

The new sounds cause the atmosphere to shift just slightly, and people who are listening are reminded and made freshly aware of often ignored senses. Shoppers seem to smile and pause to listen and watch; children ask what we are doing.

This shift of atmosphere is subtle but profound as the shoppers' individual North-American-personal-boundary-spheres open slightly in response to this inviting new matrix of sound and performers. The slightly opened spheres let in more light, smells, sounds...

a smile, ..... here ..... and ..... there -