5-Way Sensing Flaneur, Collaboration, Report 1

Image by Astrid Kaemmerling

5-Way Sensing Flaneur, 3 day – ICAS Collaboration, 1/17-1/19/2018

by Astrid Kaemmerling, San Francisco, February 2018

IMG_6762Wearing our pink sweaters we left the CIIS building to make a left turn. The intended goal was to walk towards Civic Center but it soon became obvious that we were moving too slow in order to reach this destination within the given time (40 min. walking time). The walk was  0.96 miles and it took the group 47 minutes to walk towards market street around the Twitter Building back on 9th Street and back to Mission Street. In front of the Twitter Building I am able to listen to I-Heart Radio. Everybody is moving very slowly oftentimes leaning against the windows of building facades, touching trees or leaning against parking meters, lanterns and sign posts as they transform into extended antennas broadcasting. The slower one walks the more nuanced is the soundscape and the more likely that one can tune into other peoples radios or TV stations or related stations broadcasting narratives. We connect to streaming devices located in buildings, while the city noise is still audible. I loudly hear the creaking noise of a giant trash container being opened and the “plup” of a big garbage bag being dumped into it. Traffic bypasses us, as we are slowly moving towards Market Street.

IMG_6751A man on the street, in his 50s or 60s who is wearing a black coat, black jeans and carrying a black laptop bag approaches us and asks us what we are doing. Afroditi answers, he comments “seriously? What is this, a marketing project?” Afroditi replies “no, an art project,” he laughs and responds “Let me tell you this, you should smoke pot instead it’s cheaper and has similar effects.” Without asking, he continues to give us directions to a dispensary called “Urban Farmers” located just around the corner from us on Mission Street. The group laughs and continues moving towards the NEMA apartment building. Leaning agains objects is very favorable. At the corner of 10th and Market Street, neon red renting bikes are aligned on the road and a resident walks two small bull dogs. I enjoy to listen to radio waves and find a position in which I can listen to pop music song lyrics “I am not crazy, I am just a little impaired” by Matchbox 20. Deepa and Afroditi interact with each other, toughing each other’s antennas. Gabriel meanwhile continues to lean against sign poles, touching objects in space to see whether it alters the waves invading his ears. Meanwhile, I literally begin to hunt radio waves, listening to different tunes. With every step the soundscape changes. Scratchy, high pitched noises are particularly present the faster one walks through space. It is very easy to keep track of the four group members as we are wearing bright pink sweatshirts. 


Walking alongside Market Street, in front of the Twitter building, it becomes immediately clear that this is a very active electromagnetic zone. One step switches the radio channel one might have perviously listened to, every step creates a swoosh noise and a diverse range of high pitched tones. Leaning agains the bike counting sign it is possible to listen to an alternative radio station whose reporter is ranting about Trump. The transmission is sharp and very, very clear. Leaning against objects becomes the most fascinating part. Places which you usually would not lean against or walk towards to become desirable areas because they provide rich sound experiences. Pillars, poles, trees, lanterns, only the urine smell keeps one away or reminds oneself that one needs to watch out for feces. Bypassing people look at me but do not approach me or try to talk to me. Wearing black Sony headphones it is immediately visible that I am navigating through my own sound-landscape and do not want to be distracted. On Market Street, I am interested in transferring my signals to Afroditi who is recording the soundscape. This is leading into a three way submission, as Afroditi forwards her reception towards Emilie, by touching her antenna. Since the antenna is located on the back of our sweaters the movement becomes similar, walking backwards and sidewards is preferred. Deepa, who has her antenna on the right arm moves through space differently, waving her arm up and down, holding her arm against objects of interest. The location of the antenna, it is visible, is crucial in relationship to our body movement in space during this walking collaboration.

img_6745.jpgWalking is not used as a means to arrive at a destination but as a means to catch electromagnetic fields and tune into other peoples lives, if only for a brief second. We are slowly moving, sometimes dancing through space, while creating our very own soundtrack dependent upon how we move our body through the given space. Throughout the walk we are aware of each other, yet have our own audio soundscape we are blanketed in. However, by connecting our bodies through touch we can momentarily connect and share our hearing experiences. Touching each others transmission fields, allows us to sync our experience – for minutes at a time. 5-Way sensing, we transition back to CIIS to have a vivid conversation about experiences collected. Please read more in report 2-5.

Image Rights: Astrid Kaemmerling

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