Honourable Mention in the SWS Awards 2022

Delighted to say that my sound walk, ‘Wanders in the (wild) smart city’ was one of the 3 runners up at the Sound Walk September awards this year and received an honourable mention from the Grand Jury.

Their feedback on the walk is below:

Out of research comes art, which is not necessarily a foregone conclusion. Jo Scott has produced a thought-provoking and also beautiful sound walk. It brings to our attention the unnoticed and overlooked, exploring the unseen digital networks monitoring and assessing our behaviour, without us being aware of this. We are often not surprised to see statistics about our urban space – the number of road users, when people are out and about, where they park their car – but we often forget that we are contributing to these numbers, that we are a living, unwilling, statistic.

Whenever we cross the road or stop at a traffic light, these actions are increasingly recorded and stored for posterity. It’s this hidden and non-consensual activity to which Scott draws us, then spotlighting and playing on its presence, like a will-o-the-wisp suddenly revealed by torchlight. In fact, Scott draws us unwittingly towards the spirituality of the smart city – bringing the elusive ‘data spirits’ into life musically.

Through this combination of artistry, urban commentary and movement, Scott conjures the spirit of psychogeography, encouraging us to re-see our environment and develop a dialogue with the unseen. The range of recording techniques, use of narrative voice, music, and field recording made this a stand-out piece, effortlessly combining different recording and production techniques.

Scott also intended to ‘prompt more porous and open states of being’, and while being a lofty aim, the tangential spirituality which pervades the piece brings us closer to achieving that through metaphor. An engaging and enjoyable piece, which stands up to closer scrutiny with or without its accompanying research.

Scott’s soundwalk is intriguing, topical, funny, relevant, political, and well produced. The user is taken on a walk through Manchester, where the narrator uncovers both the more visible and more hidden features of the urban landscape which are part of the now common surveillance infrastructure monitoring our every move in almost whichever city we find ourselves in.

Manchester has tried to be a kind of trailblazer for the concept of the smart city, and started implementing technologies, in cooperation with IT market leaders, at a time when we, the general public, not yet understood the consequences of surveillance capitalism. It’s never too late to turn back the clock on this abuse we experience daily, but this has to start with us understanding how we are affected, and this begins by us educating ourselves. Wanders does exactly that, and is not only insightful, but funny, and fun, too.

The full post including the winning walk and other runners up can be read here.