• Text 文:Cheung Tsz-hin/ 張子軒
    English Translation 英譯: Winnie Chau/ 周潁榆

  • 02/28/2017

  • Hong Kong/ 香港

In late October 2016, soundpocket organised an Artist Workshop for its Mentorship Programme (2nd edition) [1], artist-mentor Viv Corringham led participants in different forms of listening exercises. In one of the exercises, Viv asked participants to find a comfortable place on the floor and lie down. They needed to close their eyes and focus on listening and imagining. Viv then slowly read some phrases and sentences aloud and prompted some questions. One of them came from Pauline Oliveros’ ‘Deep Listening’ concept. Viv asked, ‘Who is very familiar to you? Could you recognize this person only by the sound of their footsteps?’

The questions are merely a prologue, which aims to trigger more experiences related to listening and perception.

The above bits and bobs associated with walking and the sound of footsteps have opened up my imagination towards the two subjects: ‘Do I listen to the sound of footsteps made by people around me?’, ‘When I’m walking, do I listen to myself and the surroundings?’, ‘How differently does the sound of footsteps resonate in different environments?’, etc. A pair of high heels click-clacks at high speed, weaving its way through the crowd in the street; a pair of sluggish slippers has an idle walk in the park; the sound of nimble footsteps quietly moves through an empty corridor… Do sounds like these enable us to understand our own state and that of others? Or can it give us a better understanding of that particular space?

於二零一六年十月底聲音掏腰包舉行的「拜師學藝」藝術家工作坊[1],藝術家導師Viv Corringham帶領藝術家學員進行不同形式的聆聽練習。Viv於其中一個練習要求學員們在地板上找一個舒適的位置躺下,然後閉上眼睛,把注意力集中在聆聽及想像上。Viv緩緩讀出一些字句,並提出一些問題,其中一道問題源自Pauline Oliveros的「深度聆聽(Deep Listening)」概念,Viv 問道:「你最熟悉的是誰?如果單憑腳步聲,你能辨認出這個人嗎?(Who is very familiar to you? Could you recognize this person only by the sound of their footsteps? )」

問題只是引子,旨在引發更多有關聆聽及感受的經驗。

以上有關腳步聲及步行的點點線索,開啟了我對腳步聲及步行更多的想像:「我會聆聽身邊的人的腳步聲嗎?」、「我在步行時有聆聽自己及週遭嗎?」、「不同環境中的腳步聲聽起來有什麼不同?」等等。一雙急速的高跟鞋在擠迫的街道中左穿右插、一雙懶洋洋的拖鞋在公園中施施然散步、輕巧的腳步聲正在靜悄悄地走過無人的走廊……這些聲音能否讓我們了解到自己及他人的狀態,或是對所在的空間有多一點的認識?

[1] For details about the Artist Workshop in the Mentorship Programme (2nd edition), please refer to:

Mentorship Programme (2nd edition) 第二屆「拜師學藝」 Viv Corringham

[1] 關於第二屆「拜師學藝」藝術家工作坊,可參考:

Mentorship Programme (2nd edition) 第二屆「拜師學藝」 Viv Corringham

Do You Listen to the Sound of Footsteps?
25/2/2017 around 5pm
San Po Kong Industrial Area Transcription

Hin: Cheung Tsz-hin, soundpocket’s Editor/ Researcher. May and Mr Lam: daytime security guards, working respectively at the management offices in two industrial buildings.

Hin:Who is very familiar to you? Just by listening to the sound of his footsteps, can you recognise that person?

May:Not really.

Hin:At your workplace, do you pay attention to the sound of footsteps?

May:I don’t either. Because my workplace is very noisy. Many people talk here (ground floor lift lobby) and many people enter the building pushing pallet trucks or trolleys. What’s more, the floor is paved with iron panels and the sound they make overlays the sound of people’s footsteps.

Hin:Who is very familiar to you? Just by listening to the sound of his footsteps, can you recognise that person?

Mr Lam:People who are familiar [to me] would be my two sons. The sounds they make when walking in their slippers are not the same. The ways they drag their slippers when they walk are different.

Hin:Can you describe the difference between the sounds of their footsteps?

Mr Lam:No. But after a long time, I get used to them and am able to distinguish the sounds of their footsteps.

Hin:At your workplace, would you be very sensitive to the sound of footsteps?

Mr Lam:I wouldn’t but I can hear people walking down the stairs. (Editor’s note: Mr Lam works in a small room next to a staircase.)

Hin:Can you identify the sound of your colleagues’ footsteps?

Mr Lam:Usually, it’s only me sitting here. There aren’t any other colleagues.

會聆聽腳步聲嗎?
25/2/2017 大約下午五時
新蒲崗工業區
筆錄

子軒:張子軒,聲音掏腰包編輯/研究員。
May及林先生:日更保安員,分別於新蒲崗兩座工業大廈的管理處工作。

子軒:你最熟悉的是誰?如果單憑腳步聲,你能辨認出這個人嗎?

May:不太能夠。

子軒:在工作的地方,你會否留意到腳步聲?

May:也不會,因為工作的地方很吵。這裡(地下電梯大堂)很多人在說話,也很多人用托板車或手推車推著貨物進出大廈,而且地面鋪了鐵板,所發出的聲音蓋過了人的腳步聲。

子軒:你最熟悉的是誰?如果單憑腳步聲,你能辨認出這個人嗎?

林先生:熟悉的人的話,會是兩個兒子。他們穿著拖鞋走路的聲音不一樣,走路時拖鞋拖行的方法不同。

子軒:能描述一下他們的腳步聲的分別嗎?

林先生:不能,但時間久了,習慣了,便能分辨二人的腳步聲。子軒:在工作的地方,你是否會對腳步聲很敏感?

林先生:也不會,但有人走下樓梯時會聽到。(編按:林先生工作的地方是樓梯旁邊的一個小房間。)

子軒:你會分辦到同事的腳步聲嗎?

林先生:通常只有我自己坐在這裡,沒有其他同事。

The Sound Texture of Footsteps
1/3/2017
The interview was conducted via smartphone instant messaging app WhatsApp

Hin:Cheung Tsz-hin, soundpocket’s Editor/ Researcher. Lawyau:Lawyau (Law How Tung, Tiffany), currently a gallery assistant.

Hin:Who is very familiar to you? Just by listening to the sound of his footsteps, can you recognise that person?

Lawyau:The people I’m most familiar with are my parents. From childhood to adulthood, I’ve been living in the same housing estate. Even though I have moved house, the flat’s layout and size are similar: I have to pass through a corridor to go to my room from the living room. Sometimes, I pretended I was asleep. My mother could tell if I was really asleep, but my father couldn’t. The sound of my mother’s footsteps was lighter. She invariably wore slippers. They were the traditional closed-toe type. Her pace was smaller and more rapid, resulting in some ‘si si’ sound when her slippers rubbed against the floor. She didn’t drag her slippers when she walked. The sound of my father’s footsteps was heavier and more solid. His steps were more laid-back. He wore flip flops so the heels would make some ‘dat dat’ sound. As his pace was wider, it took a longer time to make another ‘dat’ sound. Also, after a ‘dat’ sound, his feet would drag a little. I could totally guess who was approaching my room. I could take action accordingly to avoid being found out I wasn’t asleep.

Hin:At your workplace, would you be very sensitive to the sound of footsteps?

Lawyau:My workplace indeed makes me and my colleagues more sensitive to the sound of footsteps, as the whole working space is divided into two zones: exhibition space and office space. People coming to see the exhibition may not speak. We, in the office, would want to know the number of people in the exhibition space and who they are. We usually rely on the sound of the footsteps and their distribution to estimate if it’s one person or several people. We also have to distinguish if the sound of the footsteps is distributed near the office space or near the main entrance.

Hin:Can you identify the sound of your colleagues’ footsteps? Have you ever been able to tell their emotional state based on the variation of the sound of their footsteps?

Lawyau:I can identify them. I am usually the first person to arrive at the gallery. My two colleagues then come back one after another: one walks more hurriedly in high-heels and her state has little to do with the sound of her footsteps; the other colleague always wears shoes with hard soles that give out ‘kok kok’ sound. Basically, apart from rushing back to handle some matters or asking eagerly what everyone wants to eat, he walks indolently and the ‘kok kok’ sound drags as he walks. A more special example is a fat guy from a courier company. He wears sandal-like plastic shoes. When he walks, the plastic soles often ‘suck’ the floor surface. Besides, since his body is rather huge, his every step is very weighty and heavy. At the same time, the sound gives the impression that his shoes are already abraded. Given the many stairs he needs to climb every day, he walks very slowly.

腳步聲的質感
1/3/2017
透過智慧型手機即時通訊軟體WhatsApp訪問

子軒:張子軒,聲音掏腰包編輯/研究員。
Lawyau:Lawyau(羅巧彤),現職畫廊助理。

子軒:你最熟悉的是誰?如果單憑腳步聲,你能辨認出這個人嗎?

Lawyau:我最熟悉的人就是我的父親母親。因為從小到大,我都於同一個屋苑居住,即使搬過家,單位的格局及大小都沒有太大變化,從客廳走到我的房間一定會經過一條走廊。有時我會裝睡,母親能分辨我是否真的入睡,而父親就不懂得分辨。母親的腳步聲比較輕盈,她一定會穿拖鞋。她穿的是傳統密頭拖鞋,步距比較小而且急,所以就會製造一些拖鞋跟地面磨擦的「斯斯」聲,她不是拖著拖鞋的腳跟來步行的。父親的腳步聲比較重實,步行得比較散漫,他是穿人字拖的,所以腳跟位置就會發出「噠噠」聲,因為他的步距比較大,會隔比較遠距離才會「噠」第二聲,而且在「噠」的一聲之後他的後腳還會再拖一拖。我完全可以猜到是誰走近我的房間,而做出相應行動來避免被他們發現我還沒有入睡。
子軒:在工作的地方,你會否對腳步聲很敏感?

Lawyau:工作的地方的而且確令我和同事們對腳步聲的敏銳度上升,因為整個工作空間是劃分為展覽空間及辦公室兩個區域。來看展覽的人未必會說話,我們在辦公室想要知道展覽空間有多少人及什麼人,往往都是靠腳步聲及其分佈的位置去估計是一個人還是好幾個人。我們也要分辨腳步聲是分佈在比較接近辦公室的位置還是比較接近正門的位置。

子軒:你會分辨到同事的腳步聲嗎?有沒有試過從他們的腳步聲的變化得知他們當時的情緒狀態?

Lawyau:會分辨到的,通常我都是第一個人回到畫廊,之後我的兩個同事會陸續回來:一個會走得比較急,穿的是有鞋跟的鞋,她的狀態跟腳步聲之間沒有太大關連;另一位同事,他常常會穿著硬底的、會發出「咯咯」聲的鞋,他基本上除了趕著回來做事情或者急著問大家想吃什麼外,其餘的時間都會走得很散漫,但走路時的「咯咯」聲是拖行的。還有一個比較特別的例子是一位任職速遞公司的肥哥哥,他是穿類似涼鞋的膠鞋,行走時鞋底那一層膠往往會「啜」著地面。另外由於他的身型比較龐大,所以每一步都會走得很沉很重,同時又會從聲音感覺到他的鞋已經磨蝕了。他每天走這麼多層樓梯,所以會走得很慢。

Directing the Sound of Footsteps
26/3/2017 around noon
Bosco’s studio
Tascam DR 40/ the sound recorder was placed still on a flat surface

Hin:Cheung Tsz-hin, soundpocket’s Editor/ Researcher. Bosco:Bosco Law, artist, who also takes part in theatrical works.

Hin:Who is very familiar to you? Just by listening to the sound of his footsteps, can you recognise that person?

Bosco:Myself. For years, I have been living with others. In the past, even if the place was not small, it created big echoes, or wasn’t divided into rooms. I usually stay up late, so I walk with great care – basically I can walk with no sound. On the other hand, I usually work on the stage in the theatre and can easily hear the sound of footsteps. So, whether as an actor or backstage worker, I would be very attentive and avoid making sounds when I walk, unless the character is required to make it. I have flatfoot. When I am relaxed, I would put my entire feet on the floor and incline to drag the soles when I walk. That way, I save most energy. With this gait, the time and the sound of the abrasion between the shoe soles and the floor last longer, compared to the short and heavy sound of other people’s footsteps.

Hin:When you work for stage performance in the theatre or when you are at rehearsals, would you be very sensitive to the sound of footsteps?

Bosco:It’s perhaps not something everyone would notice, but I find it very important. When I work as a director, I would direct the sound of the actors’ footsteps, especially actresses in high-heels, which create big echoes. At that time, many performances took place in Sir Run Run Shaw Hall at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. They used boundary microphones[1] to record sound so the sound of footsteps was even louder. Hence, directing was all the more necessary.

Hin:How do you direct it?

Bosco:The sound of the actors’ footsteps have to correspond to his/her emotions. They can’t walk randomly. Some actors habitually drag their steps a little and the sound is rather unpleasant. All actresses who work with me are not used to wearing high-heels. This would result in awkward walking posture on the one hand. They would, on the other hand, focus on balancing and neglecting the sound of their footsteps.

Hin:How does it differ from the sound of Central’s office ladies’ practiced footsteps ?

Bosco:The sound made by people who are used to wearing high-heels is crisp, whereas as the sound by those who aren’t varies in speed and is less clear-cut.

Hin:In terms of space, how does the sound of footsteps in the theatre differ from that in the street?

Bosco:(In the theatre,) the echoes are much stronger. In small-scale theatres in particular, it’s easier to be heard. Besides, since the audience are very attentive, if the sound of the footsteps is unpleasant, the negative impact is great. If it’s pleasant, it can actually enable the audience and the actors to get into certain emotional state and ambiance.

Hin:Do you have any other experiences related to the sound of footsteps to share?

Bosco:In the past, when I was living with my family, I could identify the sounds of my family members’ footsteps, based on information such as shoe type, walking speed and the sound volume. My father always wore slippers, even when he went out. His footsteps were heavy; he would drag his feet (or slippers) as he walked. My third elder sister (weighs) lighter. She didn’t usually wear slippers at home and went barefoot. Her sound of footstep wasn’t noisy and the pace was relatively fast. My elder brother produced ‘daap, daap, daap, daap’ sound when he walked. When I was small, my family required me to sleep early, but in fact I stayed up late. So, I would identify who was passing my room by listening to the sound of the footsteps and then decided if I needed to pretend to be sleeping.

[1] An omnidirectional condenser microphones. They are mainly used on a flat surface, suitable for being placed on the stage floor.

調度腳步聲
26/3/2017大約中午十二時
羅家南的工作室
Tascam DR 40/錄音機靜置於一個平面上

子軒:張子軒,聲音掏腰包編輯/研究員。
Bosco:Bosco Law(羅家南),藝術家,亦有參與劇場創作。

子軒:你最熟悉的是誰?如果單憑腳步聲,你能辨認出這個人嗎?

Bosco:我自己。我多年來都和其他人同住,以往住的地方不是空間很小,回音很大,便是沒有分設房間。我通常於晚上活動,所以走路都會很小心奕奕,基本上我走路是可以沒有聲音的。另外平常在劇場台上,都很容易聽得到腳步聲,所以無論做演員或者幕後工作人員時,我會很留意,盡量不製造腳步聲,除非角色需要發出腳步聲。我有扁平足,平時放鬆的時候,我會把整隻腳掌放在地面,也傾向拖著腳掌步行,這樣最省力氣。這種步行方式,鞋底與地面磨擦的時間及聲音會比較持久,有別於其他人短而重的腳步聲。

子軒:在劇場內作舞台演出或者排練時,你會對腳步聲很敏感嗎?

Bosco:應該不是每個人都會留意,但是我覺得這是很重要的。我擔任導演時,會調度演員的腳步聲,尤其是穿高跟鞋的女演員,那個回聲很大。那時很多演出都是在香港中文大學的邵逸夫堂舉行,那裡以地咪[1]收音,那個腳步聲的音量會更加大,所以更加需要調度。

子軒:如何調度?

Bosco:演員的腳步聲要配合他/她的情緒,不可以亂走,有些演員會有一點點拖步行走的習慣,那個聲音就會很難聽。與我合作的女演員都不太習慣穿高跟鞋,一來這會導致走路的姿勢不好看,二來她們於步行的時候會專注於平衡,忽略了自己的腳步聲。

子軒:跟中環OL(Office Lady,辦公室女性職員)那種很熟練的腳步聲不同?

Bosco:習慣穿高跟鞋的人的腳步聲是爽朗的,但不習慣穿的人的腳步聲會時快時慢,很不俐落。

子軒:在空間上,劇場與街道不一樣,那個腳步聲會有什麼不同?

Bosco:(在劇場裡)回聲會強很多。尤其是小劇場,它的聲音會更加容易被聽到。另外因為觀眾都會很專注,如果腳步聲不好聽就會很影響,好聽的話其實是可以幫助觀眾及演員進入某種情緒及氣氛。

子軒:有其他關於腳步聲的事情可以分享嗎?

Bosco:從前我與家人同住的時候,基於鞋、走路的速度、聲音的大小等,我能夠分辨到不同家人的腳步聲。父親經常穿拖鞋,即使外出都是穿拖鞋,他的腳步很重,會拖著腳(或拖鞋)走;三家姐(體重)比較輕,在家裡不太常穿拖鞋,會赤腳,腳步聲不會太吵耳,步行速度偏快;哥哥也是赤腳,走路時會發出「踏、踏、踏、踏」的聲音。因為小時候家人要我早睡,但其實我都很晚才入睡,所以我會透過聆聽腳步聲來分辨誰人經過我的房門,再決定有沒有需要裝睡。

[1] 即界面式收音咪,Boundary Mic。主要平面放置使用,適合放置在舞台地面。

Walking With Himself

23/2/2017 around 2pm
A restaurant in Lok Fu
Place iPhone 4s/ the sound recorder was placed still on a flat surface

Hin:Cheung Tsz-hin, soundpocket’s Editor/ Researcher. Lam:Swing Lam Siu Wing, artist, currently teaching at HKICC Lee Shau Kee School of Creativity. In 2011, he walked from Tseung Kwan O to Yuen Long for the first time. His footprints could subsequently be seen on a number of the routes in Hong Kong and overseas. His walking experience gives birth to his work ‘Flaneur 11’ (2011 – present).

Hin:You have plenty of walking experience. Can you share some unforgettable sounds you’ve come across while walking?

Lam:Once, I walked aimlessly in Toronto. I randomly got off at a subway station and walked to the place I was staying. There weren’t many roads in Toronto’s urban area and they weren’t complex. Frankly speaking, the views (there) weren’t special and there wasn’t much to see while walking. It was autumn at that time. I was very focused on the ground, which was full of maple leaves. I couldn’t make the original colour of the road out. All I could only see was golden yellow. I recalled clearly that every step I took, there was the sound of stepping on dry leaves. It’s a crispy ‘zaap zaap’ sound. I listened to this sound as I walked. I listened to it for a long time. In Hong Kong for instance, we could occasionally hear the sound of our own footsteps, which is the sound of shoes hitting the ground, at some quiet places. The sound isn’t too loud and when other urban sounds are present, it would be overlaid. That time in Canada was the first time I could hear the sound of my footsteps so clearly.

Hin:Do you have any particular feelings under your feet or in your body?

Lam:I probably have more related feelings in places I am more familiar with. For instance, when I’m overseas, even if that place isn’t very interesting, I become very greedy – my eyes keep looking at things. In Hong Kong, I have stronger feelings. It’s all trees and mountains in the countryside and I concentrate more on thinking. This means I focus more on myself. Apart from thinking, I’m probably focusing on the body too.

Hin:Just now you mentioned you’d focus on yourself while walking. Can you elaborate?

Lam:If I walk for more than 10 hours, there may only be 10 to 20 percent of the time where there are many things to look at. Or perhaps, there is only less than 0.5 percent of the time where there are new discoveries. When you go to an interesting place, you may only spend five minutes to look at it. When I first started working, I felt lost so I spent a lot of time talking to myself, comforting myself, or letting myself to split hairs even further. In short, I spent a lot of time on dealing with myself. In fact, I hadn’t planned to do this but, surprisingly, walking enabled me to talk to myself. I didn’t have a smartphone at that time, so when I walked I either looked at the streets, or looked back at myself.

與自己步行的人
23/2/2017大約下午二時
樂富廣場的一家餐廳
iphone 4s/錄音機靜置於一個平面上

子軒:張子軒,聲音掏腰包編輯/研究員。
林:林兆榮,藝術家,現任教於香港兆基創意書院。2011年,他首次由將軍澳步行到元朗,其後多次在香港及海外不同的路線步行,並發展成作品《11號遊街計劃》(2011 – 現在)。

子軒:你有很豐富的步行經驗,可以分享一下在步行過程中聽到的難忘聲音嗎?

林:有一次經驗是我在多倫多漫無目的地步行,我隨意在一個地鐵站下車,然後步行回去我住的地方。因為多倫多市區的路不多也不複雜,而且坦白說(那裡的)景色不是十分特別,步行時沒能看到太多東西。那時是秋天,我很集中在地面,地上滿佈楓葉,我看不到那條路本身是什麼顏色,只看到全都是金黃色。我很記得每走一步就會有踏到乾枯樹葉的聲音,很脆的「習習」聲。我一邊走一邊聽這個聲音,聽了很久。譬如在香港,我們有時候在比較靜的地方會聽到自己的腳步聲,即是鞋和地面碰撞的聲音,不是太大聲,而且一旦有其他市區的聲音,就會把它覆蓋了。在加拿大那一次是我第一次如此清楚地聽到自己步行的聲音。

子軒:步行時腳底或身體會不會有什麼感受?

林:可能在比較熟悉的地方會有多一點相關的感覺。譬如在外地,即使那個地方不是太有趣,但是身在外地就會很貪心,眼睛一直都在看東西。在香港時自身會有多一點感受,郊區都是樹和山,我比較集中在想東西,即是會多些投放在自己身上,除了想東西外,也可能是集中在身體。

子軒:剛剛你提到步行時會集中了在自己身上,可以多說一點嗎?

林:如果步行十多小時,其實可能只有一成至兩成的時間是很多東西看的,或者可能只有不足半成的時間是有新發現的,到一個好像很有趣的地方去看一看可能只花了五分鐘。那時我剛出來(社會)工作,很迷失,所以花很多時間和自己聊天,開解自己,或者令自己的「牛角尖再鑽深一點也好」,總之要花很多時間去處理自己。其實我沒有預謀去做這件事,但步行很意外地幫助我和自己聊天。那時我沒有智能電話,所以步行時不是望街,就是回望自己。

extended reading and listening

1. Le son de l’art (or the sound of art), a work by artist Cedric Maridet
http://www.moneme.com/le-son-de-lart-the-sound-of-art/

2. Artist Swing Lam Siu Wing created a Facebook page ‘Flaneur 11’ (11號全日遊街) in 2012 to share different walking routes and related information.
https://www.facebook.com/11walker/

延伸閱讀及聆聽

1. 藝術家Cedric Maridet的作品 Le son de l’art (or the sound of art)
http://www.moneme.com/le-son-de-lart-the-sound-of-art/

2. 藝術家林兆榮於2012年設立的facebook專頁<11號全日遊街>,分享不同的步行路線及相關資訊。
https://www.facebook.com/11walker/