Sounds of the City Belfast in Brasilia

Pedro Rebelo, Rui Chaves, Matilde Meireles and Aonghus McEvoy.

Sounds of the City Belfast - Brasilia

Sounds of the City Belfast – Brasilia

The political history and tensions of Belfast City have led to forms of spatial and social divide based on the varying cultural, religious and political backgrounds of communities across the city. An awareness of the need to address these divides and view Belfast as a shared space have become a major concern for many art organizations and initiatives throughout the city. The aim of ‘Sounds of the City’ was to provide a series of workshops that allowed for a crossing of political, religious and intergenerational divides, through a representation of everyday life and it relates to auditory experiences, past and present, in Belfast. These, took place in two community centers: ‘Tar Isteach’ and ‘Dee Street’.

Tar Isteach is a community-based organization in North Belfast that focuses on working with ex-republican prisoners, their families and the wider local community. Participants from this community consisted of Tar Isteach’s youth worker, two elderly long-term local residents and a group of teenagers from the area, ranging in age from thirteen to seventeen.

Dee Street Community Centre is located in East Belfast, bringing together a diverse range of community members. The centre organizes various classes, outings and activities, supplies access to computers, and acts as a base from which local residents can interact and socialize with one another.  Participants included elderly members of the community and a group of local teenagers and children.

Over the course of eleven workshops over four months, the central themes and materials presented in this exhibition emerged through discussion and hands on exercises conducted with participants in the project. The artists’ background in sound art, soundscape studies and anthropology informed the project’s approach to working with participants. A variety of methods were employed, ranging from activities derived from acoustic ecology, exploratory sessions in instrument building, recordings and exercises focused on developing listening strategies and documenting auditory events and experience in the local area, through textual and graphic methods. Ultimately, this process was centered upon sound memories and past soundscapes of Belfast and inevitably branched out into explorations of the city’s history through the life of its inhabitants.

Themes that surfaced from these workshops constitute the basis for the  ‘Sounds of the City‘ –  an exhibition consisting of five sound installations. These promote listening as a form of intersecting daily life, identity and memory.

“Sounds of the City” was commissioned by the Metropolitan Arts Centre in Belfast where it was exhibited between April and July 2012. The artists are based at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, at Queen’s University Belfast. The centre is a world reknowned research environment in the field of sound technologies and artistic production. The relationship between sound and place is a central focus for research activities at SARC in particular in relation to how new technologies inform our aural experience of everyday life.





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