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Of city sounds and urbanscapes, the Sound of X

How can we reconnect with the spaces we live in, especially in the wake of the corona pandemic, which has forced people all over the world into isolation? Musicians and artists of Sound of X propose answers: using sounds, noises and acoustics as the basis for their urban re-imaginations, they explored their sonic environment.

The resulting video soundscapes offer a unique way to reconnect with the cities we live in. The works are freely accessible on www.goethe.de/soundofx and on the Goethe-Institut’s social media channels from 19 June 2020 onwards.

Sound of X was initiated by the Goethe-Institut as an international, digital project before the coronavirus crisis struck. In its first phase, artists from Southeast Asia, Australia and New Zealand are presenting works, which examine the ignored soundtrack of a city and how the musicality of everyday life reveals its characteristic social fabric.

In times of isolation, social distancing and severe travel restrictions, Sound of X offers a unique way to explore different places. The unusual perspective uncovered by artists and musicians contrasts representations in tourism and marketing on social media. We are constantly immersed in the soundscape of our urban environment; sometimes louder, sometimes softer, but ever present in its uniqueness. What is noise? What is sound? And how can we listen in a different way?

These are some of the questions the artists from Singapore, Kuala Lumpur, Medan, Sydney, Manila and other cities explore in Sound of X. Bird song merges with the clatter of a mailbox. Bubbling and sizzling street works join the beat of an electronic soundtrack. A bike ride becomes a visual exploration of a city, winding through the messy traffic and the cacophony of noises. These short video soundscapes reveal unusual perspectives to the familiar settings of our cities. For others, they can provide an immersive atmosphere of a place they cannot see or hear in person.

Urbanscapes of Manila 
Sound artist, Escuri, reflects animations happening in daily commuting life of Metro Manila through his visual and sound-driven work, entitled “Flow State”. In his goal to find the important role of urbanscapes in infusing rhythms physically and musically within our everyday lives, he went to different places in Metro Manila, experienced different modes of transportation and sound walk within the vicinity.

Project Concept Summary 
The Goethe-Institut has initiated Sound of X as an international initiative with focus on Southeast Asia. In times of closed borders and movement restrictions places become more distant, therefore it is even more meaningful to maintain access to different cultural environments, communities and artistic practices. The Goethe-Institut stays committed to continue cultural exchange and collaborations between societies, and to maintain transnational dialogues within civil and artistic communities.

“Digital culture and social media have brought a shift towards the visual. Often we are unable to establish an actual relation to what is shown. At a time in which screen culture is becoming increasingly desensitizing, the artists of Sound of X present alternative approaches to visual and acoustic perception. In the context of our urban environment, sounds can emerge from the ambient noise which, although invisible, hold many things together: the musicality of everyday life and the often ignored soundtrack of a city that reveals or reflects its characteristic social fabric” says Han-Song Hiltmann, Director of the Goethe-Institut Singapore on the concept of the project.

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