Just a little aside – Those following this blog thread may be interested to see Theatre Complicite’s The Encounter, streaming free until March 8th on their youtube channel. The theatre production, performed at the Barbican, uses binaural sound, and effectively uses many of the techniques we’ve discussed in this thread to confuse the spectator, particularly in terms of time, as past, present, and future become increasingly intertwined.
Onto this week’s blog post, where we are featuring the last two spaces from our walking tour. These include the walk from Knox College to Fisher Library, and inside the Fisher Library.
The walk to Fisher Library is the noisiest track on the tour. The walker-listener steps out of the relatively quiet Knox College and walks up the St George St sidewalk, usually quite busy when the university is open, accompanied by a regular stream of traffic. Multiple conversations are picked up, as well as wind, and the whizzing and squeaking of cars. It’s one of the few spaces where enough sound is present to drown out the surrounding footsteps. The beeping of crosswalk signals is recorded, and was ghosted into other tracks along the tour. Of all the tracks along the walk, Variation 1 of the walk to Fisher Library is perhaps the most confusing (or unnerving) to listen to while actually going on the walk, as one can easily be overwhelmed by the doubled-up sound (from both the track and real-time sounds), or else disoriented by the mixed traffic signals that ordinarily one uses to walk safely outside.
Finishing at Fisher Library offers a refuge from the noise outside. A tower visible throughout campus, the daunting exterior brutalist architecture gives way to a more contemporary look on the inside. As mentioned in the second week, the typically quiet space was disrupted by the presence of a Shakespeare lecture. The space also features a low hum, likely from an air conditioning or humidifying system. As the walking space is fairly limited in the library (and also carpeted), the sound of people and clothes shuffling registers more than in the reverberating corridors that picked up footsteps better. There are also various jangles, beeping, whispering, and the turnstyle, which we mentioned previously. Ending at the library, one can sit and recall the first library where the tour began. Both spaces have similar rules and conventions, but other than that are quite different. The small, single-level Hart House Library is more of a study area than information resource. The multi-storey Fisher Library, on the other hand, is far more institutionalized, featuring more walls, and protective features for the old and rare books. Where Hart House induced a sense of calm and quiet relaxation, the Fisher Library, with its increased protection measures and sense of fragility, instills a feeling of quiet caution and heightened awareness of self and space.