the city talks back

Fani Kostourou + Eleanna Santorinaiou

Ακούς την Αθήνα;

Ακούς την Αθήνα; | Do you hear Athens?

Ακούς την Αθήνα; is a 24-hour audio piece compiled from 101 recordings made from balconies in different neighbourhoods of Athens. We consider balconies as threshold spaces between the domestic sphere and the public realm. As such, they constitute spaces where the two worlds meet, clash and overlap. In this piece, the listener is exposed to these liminal acoustic conditions as they hear the city wakening, the sounds of birds, animals, alarms, tv and radio shows, church bells, street musicians, passing trains, cars, children playing, people having conversations, and παλιατζήδες (junk collectors) driving through the city. Sounds from both the outside and the inside are blended together in non-predictable and non-scripted ways, without knowing where some end and others begin.

Ακούς την Αθήνα; attempts to convey the familiar, everyday and mundane sounds of the city of Athens, which, as Brandon LaBelle says, form its “acoustic territory”, “unfolding its unique auditory experience” during an entire day and night. We argue that this territory has repeatedly and over the years sonically acculturated Athenians in subtle yet ritual ways, shaping how they use or project their own voices. It has limited what they recognise as the acoustic norm and trained them in acts of listening in both attentive and inattentive ways. By internalising the sounds of their homes and streets, people have developed performative responses to different acoustic stimuli in their everyday life; performances which are inherently social as well as political.

The accompanying short video is a trailer for the full 24 hour sound piece. Each minute in the video represents one hour in the full piece. Full project credits can be found on the About page.