In recent times, audio walks as a new artistic format of imparting and acquiring knowledge are on the rise in urban centres. These acoustic tours combine walking, seeing and hearing with the exploration of the city and information about its history or other topics such as architecture, typography, gender, body, time or ‘shopping worlds’. Audio walks are of interest for a phenomenological approach because of the particular way in which they address topics such as body, lived body, thing, materiality, individual, society, time and space through walking, seeing and hearing as well as feeling and tasting. With the help of an audio device (mobile phone, mp3 player, tablet) onto which an auditory manual and map of events is downloaded, the walk commences immediately.
The format operates with the fact that every individual moves within the urban space and it aims at framing this habitual form of walking differently, so that perception and observation become more open. Thus, sight and hearing become alert to things undiscovered and hidden as well as to trivial, everyday occurrences.
In walking and sauntering, the city becomes approach-able; things overlooked and ignored become tangible in walking. Although the experiential walk is accompanied acoustically, it is not guided throughout: in halting, lingering and pressing pause on the pause button, the walkers can choose new positions within and towards their environment and learn about historically and scientifically researched as well as biographically experienced urban history and histories of knowledge.
Concerning its theoretical framework, concepts of art, cultural science and sociology, literature and philosophy regarding sauntering (see Walter Benjamin and Zygmunt Bauman) and walking (see Frédéric Gros ‘A Philosophy of Walking’, Jakob Flach’s ‘The Art of Walking’, Ilja Trojanow, Henry David Thoreau’s essay on walking, the works of Lucius Burkhardt and Bertram Weisshaar on promenadology and Gudrun M. König’s cultural history of walking) as forms of life are combined.
Audio walk is suitable for individual walks of exploration as well as joint strolls through the city, since the bodily-embodied experience and the communication about things heard and seen (as well as tasted and felt) can co-occur.
Audio walk as an experiential form of walking decelerates the pace, stimulates perspectives and produces sounds and voices beyond the hectic pulse of a city full of stimuli and noise.
→ Necessary devices and materials
- Mobile audio device (mobile phone, mp3 player, tablet)
- Printer (to print out map of events)
→ Audio walks in Berlin
Three audio walks, concerning three different themes, resulted from the excellence cluster ‘Picture, Knowledge, Design’ at the Humboldt-University Berlin:
- Audio Walk I. ‘Typography, Order, Orientation’
- Audio Walk II. ‘Body, Time, Movement’
- Audio Walk III. ‘Shopping Worlds, Saunterers, Productions’
Overview of further historical-political tours for mobile phones or tablets in and around Berlin
→ Audio walks in other cities
Memory Loops in Munich