Sound walk to China Town
I just moved in Brooklyn this August and didn't travel over Manhetten yet. Still, the neighborhoods I visited except the Tisch building is China town, mostly for some errands, and I wasn't excited at all about this sound walk.
Being as a Korean, China town is neither familiar nor exotic. It is filled with sounds and signs that I cannot read or understand, but their culture is pretty close to ours. I've never felt excited to go China town as well as for Korea town.
The walk took me a lot of time to set up. In 2017, I've never thought about navigating somewhere with a map, an actual map with out GPS. This sound walk was recorded in 2009, which means many things were changed since then. Even the first cafe that I should start the walk was closed and waited for rent.
At the first time, the walk was more close to disability experience. The session you tried to navigate while a blindfold, ear plugs, or wheel chair. Being among loud, busy, live city looking at an image map and listening to the audio? I barely stepped forward. I was lost a couple of times. People on the street looked at me as a strange person.
The sound was so vivid, most of time I couldn't tell the sound is from the audio or the environment. I could understand why the sound walk was available only 10am-4pm Mon Fri. That walk was for daily lives in China town. Every mundane, common scenery looks so different, as historical, mystery, holding secretes inside. It was a really nice way of story telling. I felt I was standing on the historical space among crowds in daily routine.
After I got used to the rhythm of the step of the voice, amazing things started to happen. The voice knew exactly where I am, and every thing he was describing was what I see. When I said turn left, there was a ally, a big red door, and a tunnel. He knew whether I was hesitating, slowing down or crossing the street. Like he said at the beginning, he was a voice in my head and I was his a avatar. I got goose bumps a couple of times.
Even though there were a lot of tourist who was at the same place. I felt special. I was being guided a born and raised china town man, and that experience was totally different traveling with a book. Also, I am a big video games lover, especially open-world adventure games. I enjoyed my journey to al the different worlds so far, but I can say this one was so live and vivid out of them.
The sound of Mah-jong. Entering the elderly center in a narrow alley required me a lot of courage.