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Noise Intercepted - The Noise Project, 2013

Noise Intercepted was a series of ten experience-activated noise challenges that prompted participants to listen, observe and interact with their soundscape in new and unlikely ways. The project brought together over 200 collaborators from 28 countries around the globe — artists, sound ecologists, designers, writers, mothers, fathers, educators, filmmakers, administrators, technicians, scientists, students, programmers, health practitioners. Over the course of four months (March – June 2013), participants were sent (via text msg & email) a series of ten noise challenges and creative prompts. I particularly enjoyed Challenge #9.  I learned a lot through the process of recording and responding to these challenges, even though it was originally conceived for the city by a group based in Toronto.  Sadly the project web site is no longer available.  We had exactly one week to respond to each challenge and share our findings on our profile page on the project web site.  


"This is the end. Your very last noise challenge. If you’ve missed some challenges along the way, don’t worry. You still have one last chance to leave your auditory mark. To ceremoniously close this 4-month long noise project, we’re challenging you to let go of your inhibitions and make some noise. Follow these instructions: Pick a public place, any place. When the time is right, take the opportunity to make some noise. You can scream at the top of your lungs; make a public installation; start an impromptu performance. You can do whatever you want to do, but do it with conviction. Make a lasting impression. Make it count. Make it worthwile. You have one week to make some NOISE of your own."   

My Recording #10: Three Widows and A Cousin

I made noise in the underground car park where my mother was living, and then moved to a lift. Dissatisfied, I started to encourage people to sing. My mother sang Happy Birthday three times. Then her cousin, David, came to visit and I got him to sing in public. My aunt is a wonderful soloist, but my recording of her failed utterly to convey the beauty of her voice. I ran out of time. I wanted to end with something beautiful, but I didn’t like all the words in David’s song, so I tried to cloud some of the lyrics with other sounds I made and collected.  Peroration is the concluding part of a speech, typically intended to inspire enthusiasm in the audience. I enjoyed the noise challenges, and as a result of taking part, I have collected a huge library of sound recordings which I've already used in film soundtracks.

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Noise Challenge #9: The Free For All

"You’ve got 1 week to create whatever you want. One rule: It has to be inspired by the sounds of your city."


My Recording #9: Simmer Dim

Saturday afternoon. Water, rain, drains, taps, cars, birds.  In all the other noise challenges I thought a lot about meaning, whereas with this one I just listened to everything around me without worrying about what it meant.  I was struck by the noise that is almost constant for all 24 hours of the day and night during Simmer Dim, Shetlanders' way of describing the white nights of summer.  It is an energised, highly charged time of year, with lots of activity to go with all the light. It's both quiet and wild, a mix of nature and man.

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Noise Challenge #8: The Portrait

"This week’s noise challenge is all about…YOU. Spend some time tapping into your own unqique auditory output. What sound(s) might define you personally? Your challenge this week is to create a sonic sound portrait, one that you feel quintessentially represents you, your life, your everyday, or your essence. What might your personal sonic sound portrait look like… sound like? feel like? You have 1 week to share your findings." 

My Recording #8: Minya zovut Roksana

I can't find anything that I wrote about this challenge.  Minya zovut Roksana means "My name is Roxane" in Russian.  I chose to use this phrase because I can speak Russian, and when I am in Russia and speaking Russian, I can feel that the language impacts the my way of being.  The image is the layout of my house.

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Noise Challenge #7: The Cue

"There are a myriad of noises in our everyday lives that trigger responses. Noise can be thought of as information. From alarm clocks to cross walks, these informational “cues” establish an auditory framework that dictate our patterns of everyday behaviour. This week pay close attention to the informational “cues” that make up your personal everyday experience. Choose one informational “cue” to hone in on. Use this “cue” as inspiration for your next post."

My Recording #7: Overload

alarm clock, light in the morning, the archers, football whistles - kick off, cooking timer, 

elevator lady, 10 pm phone call from my mother, the sound of my alarms on my phone, alarms for my medications, door opening and closing for the postie, email and calendar alert reminders

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Noise Challenge #6: The Eavesdropper

"This week use your listening prowess to tap into the bits and pieces of fleeting information, conversations, and auditory activity happening around you. Pay particular attention to the sounds you hear stuck in transit, waiting in line, or passing by strangers on the streets. Create a response to this hyper-aware listening experience. What did you discover? What sound or idea or thought struck you the most?"  

My Recording #6: Undertone

With this challenge I was reminded that I hate the idea of eavesdropping because I don’t want to listen to other people's conversations without their consent, because I despise the notion of espionage and surveillance and abhor the complicity embedded in these 'systems'.  I was horrified by my realisation that the idea of eavesdropping may become obsolete as we willingly bring our private lives into the public domain through electronic media - mobile phones, the Internet and social networking  enable us to conduct so many private conversations in the public sphere. 

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Noise Challenge #5: The Senses

"What colour is the sound of springtime? What does the sound of gridlock taste like? Feel like? This week spend some time sifting through the hazy layers of noise that make up your everyday. Explore the way these sounds affect your senses, your body, your daily experience. You have one week to discover and share your mixed-sensory noise experience."

My Recording #5: Ding, Ding, Ding (or Numb Noise)

I have chosen to use recordings from a casino visit.  Casino noise completely assaults my senses, bombarding me from all directions. It is deafening, deadening and almost comforting. It numbs me into an illusion of escape, while the constant clamour of  false hope and greed while the constant clamour of  false hope and greed epitomises my sense of America.  As casino noise assaults my senses, it completely engulfs me. Ultimately this cacophony of greed and false hope became briefly comforting and deadening as I welcomed a shred of mindless escape.  I wondered if the act of sound recording could overcome the irritation and panic I often feel in the face of daily background noise? 

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NOISE CHALLENGE #4: The Soundtrack
Choose one song on your mp3 player and choose one day this week (or multiple days if you wish) to play this song on repeat. On these days, you are only allowed to listen to this one song. Listen to it when traveling to work or school. Listen to it on your lunch break. Take a long walk and listen to it again, and again, over and over. Let the song inflitrate your everyday experience. You have 1-week to create some kind of response to this multi-sensory experience.

My Recording #4: Passacaglia 

I chose Handel’s Passacaglia (after the Passacaille from the Harpsichord Suite No. 7 in G minor) played by Lynn Harrell and Nigel Kennedy. I enjoyed listening to it repeatedly. Somehow I didn’t get this challenge until quite late in the week, so I only spent one day listening to the music. The incessant repetition and range of moods was almost soothing. It reminded me of what it feels like to care for and spend time with my mother, who had demenia at the time. When I was with her it was like a roller coaster journey, unpredictable, full of surprises, sometimes infuriatingly frustrating, but also meaningful and interesting.  My mother couldn't remember most of the present time anymore. Routine and repetition characterised my time with her. I was hoping to use this Challenge to begin to try to make something of the repetition in her questions and thoughts by recording our conversations at meals and in the waiting rooms for medical appointments.  Some of her stories made her light up with enthusiasm as she recounted them.  Her relentless questions stressed me but don’t seem to worry her.  I wasn't quick enough to capture those moments when she revealed her sense of humour,   The image is the view from the dining room table where my mother often sat and where she was sitting when she saw President Obama, the story she told me again especially for this recording.

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NOISE CHALLENGE #3 The Empty (April 5 2013)

This week spend some time exploring an “empty” space (or place), manufactured or natural. Consider the creative potential of this space… its acoustics, its untold story, its emotional content. You have 1 week to find an “empty” space and change it, transform it, or influence it, through your physical interactions.

My Recording #3: Home Alone

I was alone in a hotel room in London when I made this recording.  I was on my way to Philadelphia. I had learned that a good friend whom I'd hoped to visit had just died.  And I would miss his funeral. 

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NOISE CHALLENGE #2: The Little Things (March 24 2013)

This week spend some time paying attention to the little things… the sounds that you tend to ignore and the seemingly insignificant noises that you take for granted. You have 1 week to listen, identify and select one “insignificant” sound and transform it into something “significant.”

My NOISE CHALLENGE #2: Disquietude

My alarm clock is a sound I ignore, or try to ignore, granting it insignificance every time I hear it.

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NOISE CHALLENGE #1: The Pulse  (March 13 2013)

If your city had a defining sound, a defining pulse, a defining heartbeat, what would it sound like? look like? or feel like? …where would you go to find it? You have 1 week to venture outside and find the pulse of your city.

My NOISE CHALLENGE #1: Latch Out Past

Textiles, particularly knitted, are historically one of Shetland’s main industries that represents the fusion of tradition and innovation.  Hand knitting and domestic flat bed machines sit alongside the most highly advanced industrial technologies.  

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