His artist’s palette of colours was set out in a multitude Chengdu Travel of old dishes, probably Ming pottery, and the effect of his artwork was a superb Chengdu Travel mandala. He said that its purpose is to draw your thoughts in through the shape and colour and to rest your mind on it. A winding cobbled path up a hillside came out at a temple whose door handles were embellished with streamers and tufts of yaks’ wool. Inside that temple is a sculpted pageant of warriors going to battle, people being carried in sedan chairs, attendants, and mountain scenery, but it was rather garish and looked plastic. It wasn’t until I realised that the whole thing had been sculpted from butterfat that I appreciated its merit. While I rested on the hillside and listened to wind chimes tinkling, my attention was caught by a sannyasi of about eight years old, firing a catapult down on to passing monks.
Driving the Sonic City
Kristen Sharp RMIT University
We have had enough [of Beethoven et al.], and we delight much more in … the noise of trams, of automobile engines, of carriages, and brawling crowds.
Luigi Russolo, Art of Noises, 1913
With his manifesto, Luigi Russolo articulates a shift towards a celebration of the sonic properties of the modern city in place of conventions of musical composition. Russolo and the Futurists embraced the noise created by new technologies of communication and transport: the tram, the electric light, and the motorcar. They acknowledged the rapid transformations of urban space that were being encountered in the early twentieth century, mediated through new technologies and triggered by industrialization. These continual changes created significant impact on how urban space was experienced, not the least of which was through new bodily encounters with place, machinery and new sonic environments.
The peculiar sounds of transit are the signature tune of modern cities. These are sounds that remind us the city is a sort of machine. The diesel stammer of London taxis, the wheeze of its buses. The clatter of the Melbourne tram. The two-stroke sputter of Rome. The note that sounds as the doors shut on the Paris metro, and the flick, flick, flick of the handles. The many sirens of different cities.
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