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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.

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'