Ximena Alarcon
Leicester — United Kingdom
Ximena Alarcón is a UK-based Colombian new media artist who focuses on listening to social context related sound, connecting it to individual and collective memories. She nourishes her practice with ethnography, looks for expression in voice and body, and uses networking technologies to interconnect different locations and perspectives of life. She completed her PhD in Music, Technology and Innovation at De Montfort University in 2007 and and was awarded with The Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellowship 2007-2009 to develop "Sounding Underground" at De Montfort's Institute of Creative Technologies (IOCT). She is Research Fellow at the Creative Research into Sound Arts Practice-CRiSAP, University of the Arts London, where currently develops her project "Networked Migrations: listening to and performing the in-between space". She studies Deep Listening practice by performing with The Migratory Band.
Description of work with field recording
Sounding Underground is a virtual environment that invites users to interact with the soundscapes of three underground public transport systems: London, Paris and Mexico City. Commuters’ memories and imaginations are represented in sounds and images that have been selected by volunteer commuters through an ethnographic process. These sounds are assembled in a sound score that acts as a multimedia user’s interface. The score contains sonic features unique to each metro, as well as some shared sonic spaces: Amplified Voice, Steps, Doors, Trains Arriving. Each metro has a unique space: Paris (air sounds), Mexico (street vendors), and London (announcements). This environment allows commuters, through interactive options, to experience a process of listening and remembering, provoking the expression of an aural urban collective memory, through the narrative of an underground journey. This work involves commuters of each city (London, Paris and Mexico), in the creation of a virtual environment. The ethnographic process consisted of: in depth interviews about feelings towards the commuting experience and the remembered sounds; recording of a selected journey by each the participant, activity that acts as a metaphor of their life; listening to the recording and selecting the most meaningful sounds; sharing images that will colour the final interface; performing in a networked improvisation with other participants. The improvisation becomes itself another artwork derived from the methodology. The sonic virtual environment is now an interface accessible by any person on the Internet, and continues collecting the memories in text, provoked by the listening experience. These comments become poetic and are displayed on: Each entry can be continued by adding text and stories of commuters feelings. These reflect layers of political, symbolic and social experience of the cities, taken from the deep underground experience.