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about the project

sonic imaginations is a collection of soundscapes which reflect personal relationships to London. This website is part of my coursework for my MSc in Digital Anthropology at UCL, and displays the results of a mini research project about the use of digital technology under the theme of ‘London & The Senses.’ I chose to focus on sound, specifically questions about how sound can communicate relationships to space and certain identities and affections. By creating snapshots of a city we share, each contributor communicates specific spatial relations and communal identities, fragmenting the city into sonic shards.

I began this research by creating an open call for London-based DJ’s (poster attached below) which was posted by myself and community radio station, foundation fm. I used the term “DJ” to denote a certain skill set, as creating these soundscapes requires being able to use sound technologies and equipment such as: CDJs, mixers, controllers, Rekordbox and sound recording software. Due to capacity and time restraints, i wanted to attract people who already had these skills for this round of submissions but, going forward, it’s not a necessity. In the contribute section at the top of the page, i have included a question on skill set. If someone wants to contribute to this project but aren’t confident using the equipment, i'd be happy to help them work on it collaboratively and potentially connect them with other DJs and sound designers to continue building a network.

I used our initial chats to get to know my participants; their backgrounds, their relationships to London, and how they wanted to sonically communicate their affiliations with different layers of the city. If time and logistics would allow, i then arranged a time to meet my participants and spend time with them whilst they ideated and recorded their soundscapes. Before starting this project, i thought i would record my soundscape first and send it to my participants to respond to but, once i started, i found it more natural and collaborative to share ideas with the contributors and record mine alongside.

Each contributor channeled their own experience of London through their soundscape, whether it’s a particular genre, a political sentiment, or using sound to communicate a way of moving through the city which was specific to them. Some soundscapes are reflective of feelings and memories, whilst others take more of a sonic design approach, focused on creating a mood and conjuring a moment which encapsulates a community or a part of the city. When listening to each soundscape, different communities, moods, and sub-cultures are evoked, made possible by the plethora of ways that DJ technologies allow us to layer and manipulate sound and build sonic architecture.

Making these soundscapes is a creative approach to generating space and meaning making, a channel through which our imaginations of London can be made real through sound.

I wanted this project to have an afterlife past the point of submission, and i hope to continue to populate the map and the playlist with more soundscapes from around the city. If you're interested in contributing to the project, please follow the link at the top of the page.

Big thank you to foundation fm, liv.ia, marina, mvcoko and samatar gurey for helping me bring this project to life.

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