Mapping through Sound: Effect and Affect on the Area

By Karla Berrens.

Published by Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies

Format Price
Article: Print $US10.00
Article: Electronic $US5.00

I research soundscapes, “community” and urban space, and more specifically London’s East End. My work addresses the question of how attention to the sound, and the exploration of an area through sound, helps access individual experiences of city life that are, otherwise, often lost in the kind of cultural and ethnic block thinking that community studies in sociology are very much prone to. Attending to the soundscape is focusing on the ephemeral and what would go unspoken or be taken for granted, inscribed in our daily routines, the automatisms of the everydayness. This mode of attention has endeavored to trigger an awakening of some of these quasi-robotic processes. This paper will focus on two case studies. It will analyse the different uses and intakes in the same area, dwelling on the impact it has on the area’s identity and representation. It will explore the ways in which these two experiences provide a platform for a different, more heterogeneous area to emerge. Through the study of the “navigational grid” (the ways in which through navigating space they relate to it) of my case studies, I will investigate how this attention to the soundscape invites non-mainstream cultures (or subcultures) to develop and coexist as it breaks away from a globalised, “cultural block” unit of thought, and through a meticulous exploration of everyday practices, allows for the personal and the futile to arise, thus enriching the area and its representation by giving an active shaping voice to unusual cultures. The paper will conclude by analysing the use of the soundscape (of London’s East End streets) in building a more comprehensive representation of the area. London’s East End depiction is an illustration, constituted by the addition of each person’s conception of it. Therefore, attending to the individual’s relationship with the soundscape provides for the construction of an extremely fluid and mobile image of the area as it brings the sensuous body back into the conception and representation of space.

Keywords: Soundscape, Mapping, London’s East End, Navigation, Urban Sociology, Phenomenology

Spaces and Flows: An International Journal of Urban and ExtraUrban Studies, Volume 2, Issue 3, pp.229-238. Article: Print (Spiral Bound). Article: Electronic (PDF File; 925.372KB).

Karla Berrens

Research Student, Sociology Department, Goldsmiths College, University of London, London, UK

Karla Berrens works as a lecturer at LondonMet and is working towards a PhD at Goldsmiths College. From a young age, Berrens has had a fascination with the sound of places. Berrens’ BA is in arts, specialising in sound and image. Then, Berrens progressed into an MA in urban sociology, where Berrens further developed captivation with space and urban sociology. Afterwards, Berrens started a PhD on soundscapes and the representation of space. Berrens is charmed and obsessed with spatial mapping and representation and is trying to find a means of represention that will take into account the futile and unnoticed.