Sensory postcard: WLD @QE Park

July 25, 2014 Posted by Milena D

So this year for World Listening Day (and by the way it always seems like we in Vancouver – the birthplace of acoustic ecology and all that jazz – always fall short of our international colleagues in terms of taking advantage of the day towards public education and sound awareness) a little group, a subsection of the Vancouver Soundwalking Collective, decided to re-enact a historic soundwalk by Hildegard Westerkamp, 40 years ago, in Queen Elizabeth Park. Also, I brought S. in for her first soundwalk. The soundwalk was recorded by Tyler Kinnear but for the first time I have no desire to hear it, nor did I have a particular desire to record while I was on it. As i said in the discussion after, for me it was more of a memory walk.

But not of memories I have in the park – it was only my second time there – memories from my childhood, of trees, of smells, of air, of sights. As we moved through open fields by the duck pond and then narrow passages through bushes over the creek, up narrow paths with trees overhanging at the sides, coming up on little bridges overlooking the whole park, and the cityscape in the distance, I was reflecting on everything else but sound. I was reflecting on the feeling of relief that I had in wide open spaces, and the feeling of suspense in shady, narrow passages; the breathtaking beauty of the landscape, the flower beds and decorative trees; and the unfamiliarity of having all these different people around me, speaking different languages, doing their own little photoshoots in the park.

Reflecting on multi-sensoriality it really isn’t just about sight, sound, smell or touch. I don’t know what the words are and if there even are any words for ‘atmosphere’, ‘aura’, ‘impression’, ‘imprint’, but those are the kinds of things i had an experience about as I moved through different spaces and different sensory environments.

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