Bird‘s Eye View

11 Feb 2015

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In a Soundtrackcity soundwalk one views the city from different perspectives. We became even more aware of this when we look down from our residency on the 10th floor at Alexanderplatz, a totally new perspective for us.

We share this perspective with the Rooks and Hooded Crows we hear rummaging around above our heads on the rooftop of our apartment building. It is extraordinary to see how these birds use the city. In the evening they fly in large groups from all directions to gather for the night. In the Rosenstraße near us are some scrubby leafless trees enclosed by tall buildings. These trees are amongst their favorite places to spend the night.

World Trade Center

A similar high perspective, the World Trade Center in New York City, inspired theorist Michel de Certeau in 1980 to write the seminal text ‘The Act of Walking’.
He wrote :

“The act of walking is to the urban system what the speech act is to language. It is a process of appropriation of the topographical system on the part of the pedestrian (just as the speaker appropriates and takes on the language); it is a spatial acting-out of the place (just as the speech act is an acoustic acting-out of language).”

A much quoted metaphor, but is this correct? Isn’t the city rather the result of walking. Is it not the walker who brings about the city by walking?

It is said that crows are speaking beings. Too bad we do not speak their language, we would like to ask the crows what they think of this quote.

Listen to the recordings of the crows of Berlin Mitte arriving at their roost in the Rosenstraße at dusk.


Renate Zentschnig & Michiel Huijsman

Renate Zentschnig & Michiel Huijsman

These are again binaural recordings. Listen with headphones for full effect.