I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 at the moment. In it there are two worlds: 1984 and 1Q84. Like Philip Pulman’s famous trilogy and countless other multiverse novels, the central thesis of the book is about reality of the world we live in and why we should believe it really is what it says it is. And it has got me thinking about Hackney Hear.
One of the things I love about the app is the colliding of worlds. But unlike Murakami’s book, which paints the picture for you (be it admittedly very poetically and lyrically), Hackney Hear actually take several versions of the world we are living in a presents them to you in that very space. It could be through the worlds of different communities living there: take London Fields (the park which Hackney Hear is centered around), you might bump in to Darren the ex-gang member who points out kids around you making drug deals, or run in to Iain Sinclair who describes how cattle would trundle down the west side of the park on their way to the market to be slaughtered, or perhaps you bump in to some Hackney students practicing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Even more evocative if we’re thinking of juxtaposing and interweaving our worlds is the careful sound design in our app – perhaps you’re surrounded by a sonic thunder storm while ghost ping pong players battle it out on the empty table by you, or you hear the end of the egg and spoon race as a imaginary cyclist whizzes past you.
In my mind there’s no doubt that audio can transport you. Janet Cardiff actually put it really well 15 years ago when describing her own walks “Audio affects our perception of the physical world. We understand three-dimensional space by using our vision, but also by the character of sounds we hear. If these sounds are manipulated and changed, then our perception of reality can be drastically affected”.
Now with GPS it can be even more magical as you don’t need to be pressing buttons or making sure you’re in sync with your audio tour. People have described how Hackney Hear can change their perception of their physical environment ‘As I walked back, I saw a guy with the gold chain and Gucci trainers, which was described in the app, was there. It was always there, but now I noticed it.’ (Caroline, 43).
We’re really excited about how using technology, we’ve managed to use sound creatively to layer the real world around us as we move through it. Download it, give it a whirl and let us know if you’re now living in a Hackney multiverse.