New York City of Sound


New York-based sound artist Stephen Vitiello once rented a studio on the 91st floor of the World Trade Center. For his project World Trade Center Recordings: Winds After Hurricane Floyd, he taped contact mics to the studio windows, "picking up the sounds outside of passing planes, helicopters, storm clouds and traffic, the building itself swaying in the wind."
You can listen to a short NPR piece about the project (and find other sounds here); and Vitiello was recently interviewed in Artkrush, if you want a bit more information. [....]

I read once about seismic recordings taken by Columbia University during the World Trade Center attacks of September 11th - the bedrock of Manhattan was rumbling as the two towers collapsed, and this showed up on Columbia's seismometers. These recordings were then transformed into audio files, and you could listen to the wounded, melancholic howl of Manhattan as its two tallest buildings fell to the ground. (A vaguely related story, of course, is William Basinski).

(For more on urban soundscapes see Orchestra of Bridges, London Instrument, Sound Dunes, and - an old favorite - musicalized weather events).

This was an amazing sound piece, before 9/11, but now it's taken on this extra ghostly quality. Both before and after, I think it was one of the few audio recordings that I ever felt successfully captured a sense of what it was like to be somewhere. It was sort of awe-inspiring in the beginning--the mystery of hearing these sounds and being humbled by your sudden smallness. After 9/11, they inspire a sense of imaginary identification with the people who might have heard the same thing once, and with the space that was stirred on 9/11, despite the fact that the contact mics 'hear' quite differently than we do. Yet, it's still an opportunity for a point of 'contact.' ~marisa

PS I do actually believe that Stephen didn't rent the studio but was in there on a Lower Manhattan Cultural Council/Thundergulch residency..? If so, this would be the same residency held by Michael Richards when he passed away on 9/11...

Originally posted on BLDGBLOG by Rhizome