Glass Panel 玻璃屏風
Listen 來聽 / Main 大觀 / Special: Sounds of “usual” life during the pandemic 抗疫「日常」的聲音
Mission District, San Francisco, California USA 美國加州三藩市教會區
05’40’’ / Sound Devices Mixpre-6 / Contact microphone on window, inductor on electronic devices, omni microphones on window 接觸式咪高峰貼於窗上，感應器置於電器上，全向式咪高峰置於窗邊
home, pandemic, traffic, USA
At home in the afternoon, day 11 of the shelter-in-place order during the pandemic. Staying home during the day I notice the difference in noise levels from the front of the apartment to the back. The recording begins with a contact microphone on the front window amplifying the vibrations of passing traffic and subtle gusts of wind on the old window frame. It shifts to a pair of omni microphones placed at the open window at the back, listening to the wind in the leaves of nearby trees, a few birds, a distant siren, and some faint sounds of neighbours’ domestic activities. Sirens are heard a few times a day – though I’m not sure if this has to do with the pandemic, or the fact that I am usually not at home during the day, and actually it is normal to hear them so often. The electronic sounds are fields of electromagnetic activity from screens of my computer and mobile phone.
Where I live is a busy street typically heavy with traffic, especially the large buses which tech companies use to shuttle their workers in and out of the city during commuting hours. While ordered to work from home these large buses do not operate, so the rumbling, idling motors which normally shake my window with such force have given way to the sounds of normal traffic – still a noisy urban environment, but not nearly as noisy as usual. The city bus still passes, though I can see from my window not many people are riding on it. The difference in the quality of sounds when listening from the front and back windows of the apartment, makes them feel like two different places entirely. From the back it sounds suburban, not in the middle of a city, as wind in the leaves and birds can be heard in much more focus than the traces of inner-city activity.
I chose to make a field recording in two senses: the field surrounding my apartment heard through windows, and the field of electromagnetic radiation surrounding the digital screens I use to connect to the world outside my apartment. Since I am living and working in the apartment during the pandemic and only leave it once a day for a short walk or to pick up some groceries at the corner market, these two types of glass panels offer outside views and ways to not feel completely isolated, to communicate with friends and family, to keep connections with the music and art communities I engage with, and to remain informed with daily updates on the state of the pandemic at home and abroad.