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Luke Fowler

‘A walk through a different city’


1 July – 31 December 2020

Luke Fowler’s second acoustic work for ‘In the open’ is a sound portrait of Glasgow’s urban core, emptied out of human presence during the months of lockdown earlier this year. Edited from over 500 hours of audio recordings, ‘A walk through a different city’ traces a sonic journey that begins at the top of Sauchiehall Street, winds through alleyways and lanes, past hotels and empty car parks before taking in Buchanan Street – the heart of Glasgow’s commercial shopping district – heading south through a deserted Central Station, and concluding under the Kingston Bridge, by the River Clyde.

‘A walk through a different city’ frames the city’s acoustic environment at the height of the pandemic, defamiliarized through the absence of crowds. This radically altered ambience allows us to tune into a broader and more nuanced soundscape to the one we are accustomed to. With the shoppers, buskers and traffic gone, Fowler’s microphones instead amplify impressions from a transformed acoustic environment; extractor fans, electricity boxes and triggered alarms systems polarise our sonic experience. A vibrating undercurrent to the ordinary ambience of the city, the drones, rumbles and fluctuating tones at times take on a meditative, almost harmonic quality, whilst at others feel abrasive and disquieting.

The social sounds we do hear punctuate our perceptual field – snatches of overheard conversation, the sound of floors being mopped and bins being jet-washed, construction work being hastily erected and tannoy announcements being made. These encounters and micro-events map our social behaviour and trace new patterns emerging during these highly sensitive and anxious times.

‘A walk through a different city’ is a companion piece to ‘The Pitches’; a sound portrait of North Kelvin Meadow / The Children’s Wood. Both works document the ways in which the pandemic has altered the sonic and psychological experience of the city and its inhabitants.

This work can be listened to at home but we recommend listening outdoors with headphones.

Luke Fowler – The Pitches

With thanks to Alex Kapranos, Eric La Casa, and Mark Vernon.

Mastering by Stephan Mathieu /
Schwebung Mastering.
Design: Maeve Redmond.

Part of 'In the open'