The Ghost Variations – Featured Spaces 2

The next two spaces on the audio walk to be looked at this week include the University College building, and the green space just in front of it.

The University College building features a number of similar characteristics as the Hart House building. In the raw recording of the first variation, one can again hear the outside wind before the walker enters the building. The building features a number a entrances and exits throughout it, and this causes wind to register multiple times throughout the recording, as well as sirens from outside. Also, as in Hart House, the sonorous corridors makes the sound of footsteps predominant throughout the recording, including both horizontal and vertical traveling feet, as there are many staircases throughout the building. As before, the ‘two-dimensionality’ of the recordings creates confusion between sets of footsteps, as more weight (and therefore sound) is often used in climbing stairs.

During our recordings in the UC College building, we again ended up with segmented portions of sound, including a lecture on the socio-economic situation of Paris in the 21st century and a conversation in Chinese, different sections of which were picked up in different recordings. The lecture is one of the few clues the listener can hear that gives him or her an idea of the function of the space. We thus used it in a few modified variations to confuse the listener, and also create a sense of deja-vu.

Just outside the UC Building is the large UC Green area, which is generally empty, and relatively peaceful compared with other parts of Toronto’s downtown core. During events, however, the space can be filled with thousands of students, making it a rather noisy place. Our recordings were made on a more typical, quiet day. They feature similar elements as the indoor spaces – footsteps, conversations, the sound of sirens (one wouldn’t think this is typical, but they were picked up consistently in the previous spaces), and the occasional brush of the wind. Being outdoors, the quality of the footsteps is altered by the different terrain, and the lack of walls that reverberate the sound indoors. Voices also sound further, and unique to the outdoor landscape is the sound of birds.

In variation three of the UC green space, additional outdoor traffic has been added. Ghosts from other spaces are carried into the UC green through echoed conversations, including snippets from the Paris lecture and Chinese conversation inside the UC building. The sound of birds is also repeated. The additional voices makes it difficult to ascertain which beings were originally present – the original ghosts, or the artificially inserted imposters. Unusual to the space is the addition of a turnstyle sound from the Fisher library, which is is confusing in the outdoor setting. Like the Paris lecture, a turnstyle provides a more concrete clue as to the function of a space. Used to control human traffic, one expects to hear them in metro stations or amusement parks, but to hear them in a relatively calm green area confounds the nature of the space.

UC Building – Variation 1

UC Green – Variation 1

UC Green – Variation 3


The UC Building and Green Space in Front
The UC Building and Green Space in Front