We used walking practices like drifting and soundwalking to explore the sonic character of the city of Mostar. The objects found on our walks were upcycled into an interactive soundscape-installation in an abandoned public building. This transformed space invites passerbies to leave their ordinary walking routes and engage creatively with their living environment.
As part of the Austrian Artist Delegation funded by the Austrian Embassy in Sarajevo, we designed a three-day multi-arts workshop for the Street Arts Festival in Mostar 2015. The final product was an interactive sound-installation in the ruin of the Old Library using instruments made of found objects and recycled materials. This is reflected in the name “Muziklaža”: the combination of Music (Muzika) and Recycling (Reciklaža). The collaborative process aimed to open up the participants’ perception of the city through sonic exploration leading to a recovery of agency in shaping the city and its soundscape.
Our understanding of urban exploration is inspired by the Situationist International and their idea of Psychogeography. We adapted their practice of drifting (derivé) as a means to discover the urban landscape through cross-walking it. Combining drifting with Hildegard Westerkamp’s practice of “Soundwalking”, we explored the city’s landscape and its connected soundscape. The focus on auditory experience helped us to escape our ordinary walking paths and find a new way of shaping the constant dialogue with our environment. We sought inspiration in retracing acoustic clues in the ruin of the Old Library in Mostar.
On these drifts, we collected trash and found objects as residues of the urban soundscape and materials for the creation of recycling-instruments. The reappropriation and instrumentalisation of the trash gave the participants the chance to create their own urban soundscapes which were combined into the final interactive installation. Hence, the installation represents a collective auditory reimagining of the city.
The produced installation at the Old Library reclaimed the abandoned war ruin as a public sound-library which offers to experience unknown sonic possibilities within the urban surrounding. Furthermore, the reappropriation of the space invites passerbies to leave the comfort of the newly paved pedestrian zone and to take new paths into unused public spaces. The sound-library provokes people to focus on the auditory perception of urban residues and use them to contribute actively to the urban soundscape. Muziklaža encourages the citizens of Mostar to find their own creative paths to shape their urban surroundings. Therefore, conscious walking is the first step to leave the beaten track.