Complementary stories – participatory site-specific radio art as a narrative of the postindustrial soundscape, and antecedents of co-creative approach to urban sound design



Stare Polesie - a part of Lodz neighbouring downtown on the one side, and newtown on the other side – has retained old fabrics of XIXth century industrial city – with numerous tenant houses, manufactures, and factories. Only recently have new housing investments, as well as small scale revitalization projects, partly driven by local activism been changing the outlook of this place. This paper presents a qualitative inquiry into the process of making and recreating of the soundscape as a representation of place identity by three sound artists during participatory site specific art residencies. Their contributions – three radio dramas broadcasted on “Radio Kapitał” in December 2020 – present at the same time a point of departure for intertextual analysis of past, present and future audiosphere, and a result of attentive, deep listening. Different modes of ausculation - listening apart together, listening collectively, listening separately - provided different insights into the nature of the site and directed aesthetic decisions. This method of knowing by listening revealed what was a norm and what was a deviation from the norm in a particular sonic environment. By documentary value of field recording, by addition of new sounds, by improvisation, by bodily immersion in soundscape – the radio narratives of this area try to transcend the alleged dullness and tiring monotony of the city noise. They are illustrations of the city layers – timelines, polyrythms, and vocal- verbal-musical like motives. This study looks for relations between the qualities narrated by artistis, and personal soundscape narratives of place residents, and other particpants of the project. Based on study carried out among residents, and interviews with local activists, and project participants the paper discusses also the possible directions, objectives, and a toolkit of the collective actions, that could produce a better sound world. This potentially co-created soundscape resonates with four dimensions of public value understood as a relation between subject (audiosphere) and person (residents): moral-ethical, hedonic-esthetic, utilitarian-instrumental, and socio-political.