About

This is the official website of The Binghamton Historical Soundwalk Project, a multi-year civic engagement project using the theories and methods of the field of sound studies to identify and intervene in community issues and concerns.

The Binghamton Historical Soundwalk will turn a one-mile stretch of Downtown Binghamton into a live sound art installation for a combined audience of year-round residents and Binghamton University students. Phases I-III have been completed over three years (2013-2016), with contributions and research assistance from 180 Binghamton undergraduates and involvement from the Binghamton University Center for Civic Engagement and over ten Binghamton community groups including TechWorks Binghamton, the YMCA, and the Bundy Museum.

A soundwalk is a sound studies research methodology developed by Hildegarde Westerkamp and R. Murray Schafer at Simon Fraser University. Researchers guide participants in a silent walk along a pre-determined route, asking them to consider not only what they hear, but how they listen to it and the meanings/affects they cull from the sounds.

Specifically, the BHSP asks participants to draw more conscious attention to the way they listen to the world around them by leading them through 5 site-based sound installations constructed of archival sounds drawn from TechWorks and the Broome County Historical Society, field recordings by Binghamton students, oral histories of Binghamton residents recorded by BU students, recordings donated by community residents and solicited via student presentations at Tech Works, the Binghamton Boys and Girls Club, the Jewish Community Center and several other local venues, and ambient sounds created by the student-artists who will be making each installation.

Proposed sites include: the former MacIntosh Amplifier Factory—which built the amplifier that the first hip hop DJ, Kool Herc, used at his community parties in the 1970s; the Boscov’s parking ramp—home of an important player piano factory in the 19th century and the artistic “parking ramp dances” in the 1980s that led to the creation of the legendary Bill T. Jones and Arnie Zane Dance Company and featured the early work of the sound artist Helen Thorington; and the site of the clothing factory fire in 1913 that killed 31 people and led to major labor reforms, and where a local group meets every year on Labor Day to commemorate this loss.

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