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OpenCity Venice

22 September 2017

Photo credit: Susan Trangmar

Part of the No Telos residency http://not-yet-there.blogspot.com/2017/05/research-convivium-no-telos.html

My reflections upon the shared experience of moving through a (watery) city in an unfamiliar manner, taking a protracted period of time in which to observe, to engage in slow looking, noticing the fine grained surfaces, the worn away and the grimy.

I arrived at the soundwalk OpenCity Venice through spending time sat on a bench by the Garibaldi fountain, where my thoughts turned to the inter-connected bodies of water, the pond at the base of the fountain, the watery sacks that constitute our own bodies, the lagoon, the open sea, each a confluence of flows. Composing the walk caused me to reflect upon the surface (tension?) of the lagoon, the sonic worlds both above and below its surface and how sound behaves in each realm, the transmission of sound waves through these different, yet strangely similar, media. The idea of moving between watery states formed the basis for the walk.

As well as its watery-ness, Venice provokes certain ways of moving through it. I habitually proceed through the city like a racing car, frustratedly weaving in and out of the gaggles of tourists. To crank every movement down to almost painful levels of slowness requires a very different approach. Together with my fellow slow walkers we create something of a minor spectacle, causing a ripple effect upon those not participating. I felt the extraordinary power that comes from stepping outside of the crowd and behaving strangely. As we rounded the corner by the iron gates at speed (very slow) I noticed our elongated shadows cast upon the ground ahead. People in the cafes were observing us, and it felt as though we were in a film sequence (perhaps the shooting scene in La Jetee?). The moment was pregnant with possibilities.