Walking intently: Experiencing mobile sound art in urban space
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The auditory sound structure of the city has changed radically over the past century. Industrial and technological developments have not only increased the quantity of the urban sound elements but have also enhanced their volume. Simultaneously, since the introduction of the Sony Walkman in the 1970s, the phenomenon of mobile privatization through the widespread use of headphones can be observed. This practice may be seen as a way of escaping the complexity of the contemporary urban soundscape by focusing instead on the experience of different content through headphones. Artistic projects, so-called Mobile Sound Art, also use this tool, but seek to evoke a strong engagement with the surrounding environment. This thesis explores this phenomenon and questions how the emotional relationship to urban space is impacted by Mobile Sound Art smartphone applications. The descriptions are situated in a critical analysis informed by a range of urban and critical theorists, such as the Canadian composer R Murray Schafer, who has dealt intensively with contemporary urban soundscapes. Through the combination of two methods, namely the Walk- Through-Method to explore the functioning of the smartphone applications studied and the bodily exploration of urban space through the practice of Soundwalking, I experienced the different urban environments differently. Both methods are based on an introspective practice and on subjective experiences of the smartphone applications and the urban space. It is evident that these experiences are strongly influenced by situational factors such as mood and weather. At the same time, the selected smartphone applications, Soundtrackcity and VUSAA, significantly impact the emotional relationship to the urban space explored. Although this connection is characterized by a historical component, i.e. whether the individual already is familiar with the environment and connects experiences, the applications are able to shape these spaces anew.