• 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? )」



[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.

25/2/2017 大約下午五時













The Sound Texture of Footsteps
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.








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.

Tascam DR 40/錄音機靜置於一個平面上

Bosco:Bosco Law(羅家南),藝術家,亦有參與劇場創作。







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?






[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.

iphone 4s/錄音機靜置於一個平面上

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)。







extended reading and listening

1. Le son de l’art (or the sound of art), a work by artist Cedric Maridet

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.


1. 藝術家Cedric Maridet的作品 Le son de l’art (or 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。