A Sonic View
Opening her book Re-presenting the Metropolis, Dana Arnold describes the bourgeois obsession with ‘panorama’ in the early 19th century and highlights how the visual acted as a ‘consumable spectacle’ that gave the spectator “…a feeling of mastery over the constraints of space and time and fulfilled the social desire for understanding and control.” And in the case of London it was the view from St Paul’s that “…pervade[d] the experience of London in 1800-1840…” (Dana Arnold, Re-presenting the Metropolis: Architecture, Urban Experience and Social Life in London 1800-1840, 2000, Ashgate, p.1-5)
In A Sonic View the Peckham Plex becomes the 21st century viewing platform, looking back at St Paul’s. A Sonic View creates a ‘sonic spectacle’, which, different from its 19th century relative the ‘visual spectacle’, does not seek feelings of mastery and control, rather it suggests a more nuanced, less certain understanding of the multiplicities and possibilities of the city.
Looking out at St Paul’s, the recently built Peckham library and the not-yet existing re-development at Elephant and Castle, the members of the MusArc choir will mediate these building’s sounds. With their voices they will make audible what can not be heard, either because the sounds are too far away, there are obstacles between them and the listener, there are louder sounds in the immediate surroundings or the sounds occurred in the past and unlike the bricks and mortar of the ‘visual spectacle’ are no longer present.