When walking from Brookfield Place to Union Station I was drawn to the transitory spaces that were in the PATH, specifically the tunnels that were bounded by sets of doors. The sounds that stood out were footsteps and the wind pressure caused by the opening and closing of the doors. I’m curious about the waves of movement that both of these sounds imply. I believe that most of the people who are walking through these spaces are focused on getting to their destination rather then the experience of transition.
My hypothetical design intervention would be to simultaneously amplify the transitory experience of the peoples’ movements, but also to ground them to the space they are in. This would be achieved by picking up on the existing sounds, footsteps, and to change the speed (either quickening the speed or slowing it down). I think that the sound of someone or a group of people running would change the space from a sort of lo-fi, single soundscape, which ends up blanketing the sound of the space, into a space where people would all of a sudden be aware of their sounds. I think that the speed and distinction would cause people walking through the space to have an internal reaction and awareness to their surroundings: maybe someone would feel they need to step aside and let another pass; maybe they would feel more anxious. I would hope this would ground the person to their surroundings therefore allowing them to be in tune with the space, while their body is physically still in transition as they are walking towards a destination.
When I was in university, I had a small project that required me to select a site and insert a new program using the same location. I looked at the mass movement of people entering into Union Station at the end of each day. I decided to change Union Station into a meat-packing factory, thereby replacing people with cows. Maybe instead of inserting footsteps into these transitory spaces, I insert the sounds of a herd of cows. More info on this project here.
The following is a recording of my footsteps on a Sunday morning:
I explored the spaces with Stephen McLeod and Scott Kobewka. We also discussed the idea of muzak within the PATH. I used to work at King and John and would spend my winter lunch breaks in the PATH. These spaces can be bleak, especially when they double as a refuge from cubicle office life. I’ll never forgetting sitting in the food court one lunch and laughing as muzak was playing especially loud that day. The idea that muzak is used to effect your psyche by either slowing you down to shop, relaxing you, or distracting you from unpleasant conditions is very interesting to me. We discussed the idea of using muzak in these transitory spaces to evoke a new emotion of calmness to the sometimes chaotic conditions of these tunnels.
Interestingly enough, there are similar products on the market that do they exact opposite: sounds to deter people and animals. There is a product called The Mosquito that plays a high frequency tone that apparently only teens can hear. It’s used in certain private/ public spaces and malls to ensure that there is no loitering of teens. Funny enough, here in Toronto we just installed a similar device at the Bathurst Subway Station called Bird-Be-Gone which has the same effect except on pigeons. So basically teens and rodents are both unwanted in certain public (private?) spaces.