Chinatown Sound Map Launch

At long last, – the Chinatown Sound Map is finally here! You can check out the results from this project by visiting www.chinatownsoundmap.com or by clicking the image below.

Chinatown Sound Map

The Chinatown Sound Map is a collaborative, community based project guided by the curiosity of exploring how sound contributes to our sense of place. It provides a platform for users to listen to and share different experiences in and with Chinatown through the perspective of sound.  

Thoughts, reflections & questions

Looking back, this project has come a long way since its conception last May. Through the generous support of various community partners, the Chinatown Sound Mapping Project has grown (and hopefully will continue to grow) in new and exciting directions.

After spending my time weaving through the streets of Chinatown with an audio recorder last summer, I had the opportunity to host a series of sound mapping workshops in the fall. These workshops enabled greater community participation in the project by providing a space for participants to contribute to the sound mapping of Chinatown. By bringing participants out into the streets of Chinatown, these workshops reimagined everyday spaces in the neighbourhood as a site for critical reflection and learning. For example, as one workshop participant demonstrates, paying attention to the different sounds in Chinatown can be a way for us to consider the power dynamics that play out in space and place.

The sound mapping workshops also provided participants with the opportunity to engage with those who live and work within the neighbourhood. One of my favourite moments was when several workshop participants and I stumbled upon the ULAM Filipino Cuisine pop up and got to know Josie, a local Chinatown resident, over a delicious bowl of lugow.

Listening to the recordings I’ve captured, a pattern appears to emerge from the sounds and places that are represented on the sound map. For various reasons, these sounds felt important to document. The cheeky interaction between a grandmother and her grandson at the grocery store brought back a wave of mischievous childhood memories, and demonstrates to me how Chinatown still an intergenerational community space, a place where memories and relationships continue to be made. Evidently, certain sounds can enrich our experiences and enable us to connect to a place by evoking memory and emotion; other sounds may not. While our different interpretations of sound will inform our particular understandings of what Chinatown is/what it could be, my hope is that this project demonstrates how Chinatown is still a vibrant community, – living, breathing and dynamic.

With that in mind, it would be impossible to engage in a project in Chinatown without noticing the rapid changes that are being experienced by the neighbourhood. This project sought to visualize the impact of these changes by examining the soundscapes of Chinatown. For example, consider the following two recordings. How might these sounds be experienced differently depending on our particular social locations? Who has the social and economic capital that would allow them to navigate comfortably through different places in the neighbourhood? What might this say about the changes that are happening in Chinatown, and who is or is not excluded?

Hopefully, by paying attention to the soundscapes of Chinatown, users can consider the role that sound plays in cultivating our particular sense of place. Many interpretations of Chinatown exist depending on the unique ways in which we connect (or don’t connect) with this neighbourhood. This can have a real and tangible impact on our ability to navigate through a place such as Chinatown. In taking a more critical approach to sound and place, how might we adopt a more nuanced perspective on the ways in which we live, work and play in relation to one another in the neighbourhood? What other lessons or insights can others draw from this project? I’m excited to find out!

Thank you!

It truly took a community effort to bring this project to life. The Chinatown Sound Mapping Project would not have been possible without the support of the following:

  • UBC ACAM Community Projects Fund
  • Louis Lapprend, Marion Jeandel (Chinatown Today)
  • hua foundation
  • Sound map workshop participants: Arielle, Beverly, Christy, Dominique, Emma, Janie, Kimberely, Matthew, Patricia, Tyler

Many thanks for your time, patience and contributions to this project!

What’s next?

The Chinatown Sound Map was designed with the intention of facilitating sustained community participation in this project. Users have the ability to contribute to this project by submitting their own field recordings from Chinatowns across the country, continent, or even world. The possibilities are endless, and I’m looking forward to seeing how this project will continue to grow.

Have suggestions on how the platform can be improved, or have other ideas on how you can contribute to this project? Feel free to leave a message or give me a shout!

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