Stepping lightly – more episodes to come

My podcast series “Keveät askeleet” (“light steps”) has come up with a small obstacle, now that there shouldn’t be much “stepping” done outside the house for a month or two.

The idea of the show is to take a scholar out for a walk, to which ever place they want that would be in their comfort zone, research-wise. We then walk about and discuss what they see, hear or “read” from the environment. This obviously being something else than I would, having a different disciplinary background. There is an emphasis on soundscape and sonic narration. The aesthetics of the show follows roughly the aesthetics of field work: no fancy editing, definitely not studio quality, but maybe a refreshing take on mediated auditory realities. At least I hope it might be refreshing. It could also be annoying for all I know.

So far I have had the pleasure to walk with four scholars. With architect Jenni Partanen we walked in Nekala, an old industrial district in Tampere, talking about entropy and change. With cultural scholar Anu Laukkanen we walked in the University of Turku campus, pondering situated bodies and power in different kinds of spaces of learning. With sound artist Petri Kuljuntausta we walked in Tukholmankatu, Helsinki, where his sound art gallery is located. With sociologist Juhana Venäläinen we walked around Tampere city centre, discussing the commons, cycling and urban space as a location for encountering. We also had some donuts.

If everything goes as planned tomorrow the fifth episode will be online: media scholar Minna Saariketo (while walking her dog in Turku) will accompany me walking around the garden in Tampere, and we will talk about the landscapes of code. This will be executed by all recommendations of the Finnish Institute for Health and Welfare.

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Pic: Mirkka Hietanen from Vastapaino (the feet are mine, the photo was taken by Miia Collanus). Jingle by Väinö Jylhämö.

 

Evening of Sounds – live from Turku

The 13th Evening of Sounds went out of Pasila studios and to the wild – Turku! A three hour live ”listening walk” was broadcasted in Radio Suomi on Thursday, August 15th. Together with artists Simo and Tuike Alitalo, researcher Heikki Uimonen and show host Jukka Mikkola, and with the technical help of sound designers Mikko Kuokka and Antti Pohjola and producer Pertti Ylikojola back at the OB van, we walked some 7 kilometers listening to the very lively Night of the Arts (“Taiteiden yö”), celebrating it’s 30th year.

You can listen to the program here: https://areena.yle.fi/1-50211380. During the first hour we climb to the Vartiovuori hill, the second we spend around the old city centre, around Tuomiokirkko, and the third hour we went up and down the Aura river with a boat (with an electric engine, and with captain Nigel Helyer). A wonderful moment personally, just at the end of the second hour, is listening to the old door of the Turku Main Library. Some creaking hinges from 2005 and 2019. (There wasn’t time to play the recording from 2010, you can listen to it here: http://kartta.aanimaisemat.fi/sound/115)

I’ve written a chapter about the program to Music radio: building communities, mediating genres (eds. M. Michelsen, M. Krogh, S. Kaargaard Nielsen and I. Have. London: Bloomsbury, 2018) with the title “Mediated Soundscapes: Representations of the National in the Soundscape Call-in Programme Äänien ilta.” If you’d wish to read it but don’t have access to the book, drop me a line.

Here’s an excerpt from the beginning:

“During the last five years, the Finnish Broadcasting Company YLE has been broadcasting a call-in programme on environmental sounds [–]. The three-hour live program called Äänien ilta (‘evening of sounds’) is [usually] aired on a Sunday evening slot and with approximately 220 000 listeners per show it is considered a popular event with listeners and critics alike. The programme consists of callers’ narratives on their personal and sometimes intimate experiences and memories on both current and past sonic phenomena. The callers request recorded sounds they would like to hear in the programme. Some requests are selected and fulfilled with the help of the YLE sound archives and present-day soundscape recordings produced by soundscape archiving projects outside YLE. The host of the show, Jukka Mikkola, discusses the sound requests and stories connected to them together with the callers and studio guests representing soundscape research, sound art and sound design.

Äänien ilta falls somewhere between the more conventional radio programmes such as music call-in shows, citizen’s forums and studio conversation programmes. The radical idea of dedicating three live hours for environmental sound recordings, call-ins and brief commentaries is exceptional. The sound recordings listened to are often quite long samples without a dramatic structure, not only sound effects to feed brief sonic curiosity. The audience is offered a position to listen to the sounds together with the host and studio guests attentively, possibly unlike in everyday situations and thus attach personal and communal meanings to them via a public broadcast.”

 

All Evening of Sounds programs are archived online to YLE Elävä arkisto: https://yle.fi/aihe/artikkeli/2013/04/11/aanien-illoissa-kuunnellaan-kadonneitakin-aania

Aural Visions: Artistic Spaces, Making Places, roundtable

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Tom Williams, Meri Kytö and Miriam de Rosa, and a gorgeous fresco.

The roundtable – Aural Visions: Artistic Spaces, Making Places – was curated and chaired by Miriam De Rosa and tackled topics such as sound art and placemaking, mapping and navigating space through sound/aural artistic practice, audiovisual media and acousmatic music, interactive screen and sound media. Taking part in the roundtable together with me were Tom Williams, Elena Biserna and Yiorgis Sakellariou.

Mapping Spaces, Sounding Places: Geographies of Sound in Audiovisual Media was organized at the Department of Musicology and Cultural Heritage, University of Pavia (Cremona).

Disturbance

Late night at a train. Two teenage boys playing a first-person-shooter mobile game with sounds on in an otherwise quiet and sleeping car. The phone rings.

“Oh why do they fucking always have to call when I’m fucking playing!?! [pause, answers phone] Yes? Yes I’m at the train. Yeah ok, I will.”

***

Deworming

[A guest post]

Morning at a pharmacy. The pharmasist offers help to a customer.

“Can I help?”

“Yeah, I’d need an allergy drug.”

“Do you have a specific product in mind?”

“Yeah, anything but the one that has the annoying jingle. It has played in my head non-stop for a few days now.”

“Ah, OK. Here’s a product from another manufacturer.”

***

Serving with distinction

Afternoon in a coffee shop. Two baristas serving one customer.

“What’s on the pulled oats you got there?”

“It’s the sweet chili marinade and I’ve added some parsley.” 

“Ok, I’ll have the halloumi instead.” 

“Can I put cottage cheese on top of the dry bread?”

“Do you want syrup with your chili chai latte?”

“No thanks.” 

“Yeah… it’s better to ask and make sure.” 

***

Out in the town

Late afternoon at a restaurant. Two young women tweeting.

“Is that like good grammar? ‘Strolling around Copenhagen’?”

“Yeah.”

[pause]

“Ok so I wrote ‘Casually exploring Copenhagen with this hottie'”

“With this hottie?”

“Yeah! Ok, look up cutie, smile, open your mouth, with your teeth out…”

[giggling]

“Ok, savage!”

***

I don’t trust you

Evening infront of a shopping mall. A young man talks on the phone.

“Hey you, yeah, I’m on the street, I’m outside. No. You get down here. No you come out, now. Now! You come out now! Yeah. [hands the phone to a young man next to him] Thanks a lot. Ok, so my friend comes out now. You give him twenty euros, ok? You just say it’s from me, ok?”

“…. well… nah… It’s too complicated.”

“Just give it to him, and then you…”

“Forget it. I won’t.”

“Yeah… well I need to… [walks away]”

***

Dizzy

On a bus. An elderly lady hops on and starts talking to another across the aisle.

“There’s a fine hassle at the bank! What a cue. And one man fell on top of me. He fell on me! He was feeling dizzy you see. He had a dizzy fit. And was sent to the hospital. After the fall… I didn’t need to [pause] Luckily nothing happened to me! Even though I was squished right under him! [laughter]”

“Yeah, sometimes things…”

“…once a man’s shopping tote broke on the escalator, a canvas tote, the seam in the bottom tore up, all the books scattered around… I lost my step among the books. Yes… well…”

***

Did you see that coming?

Coffee house, afternoon. Two young men talking.

“He had a wife, did you know that? For years. And now he’s dating, a woman. Like… I didn’t see that coming. ”

“Yeah, I’ve seen… in concerts, I’ve seen him together with…”

“Yeah, hmm. Didn’t see that… but I’ll be in Berlin so I won’t be…”
“Maybe they’ll do a broadcast in radio or…”

“Yeah, I’m sure….”

***

Girlfriend

Morning, in a train. A woman talking to a man.

“Sorry what did you say to my father just now?”

“I told him I have a Philippina girlfriend.”

“We come from China.”

“Oh, China is closer.”

“Well, they are neighboring countries.”

“We’ve been together for a year, but we are both poor so… You know. Text messages, video calls.”

“Yes.”

***