Pop-Up #1: Sound Station

We had set-up a small table in the Sunset lobby with kitchen bowls, shakers crafted from nature, clothing-line reels, walnuts, a tin of salt, a comb we found at the centre, and some plants found on a walk earlier in the day. We made a sign that read “1 Minute Art Project!”, greeted people with smiles and hellos, and tried to entice them with the sound of the bowls. Most adults thought the project was for children, which begs (at least) two questions: (1) what constitutes an art project for adults? (2) what do kids understand so readily that adults don’t about making art?

Matthew & Julie exploring sounds in the Sunset lobby.

I noticed some people were worried if they played a “wrong” note, but the bowls aren’t tuned to a scale; there are no rights and wrongs, just sonic discovery. Some might hear the sounds as a cacophony, but we can shape and organize cacophony if we chose. It isn’t about what is the right note or the right beat, but what grows our ears! What helps expand our sonic diet?
An iconic moment of the day was when the preschoolers were released from their classrooms. A flood of tiny hands and limbs came rushing down the hall, ready to bang, hit, shake, or move to the sounds on the table. I saw shy children immediately light up when they were able to play with a shaker for a little bit of time. Smiles beamed every which way.

Matthew answering questions and listening to sonic exploration.

Some of the seniors were amazing to watch. They would be quite timid at first, but most got more assertive and confident as they hit a few bowls. One woman was very concerned about discerning the pitch of the bowls. Another woman, after listening to the sounds, went down the hall to grab her friend and returned to show her the sounds. One man banged loudly on the bowls till his heart’s content, concluding his performance with a double thumbs up.
Two of my favourite visitors to our table were Mohammad and Asma. Mohammad was dressed in a Tae-kwon-do outfit with a spider man jacket on. I later realized he was skipping his class to come and play with the sounds on the table! After a great deal of exploration he started combining all the objects on the table to make very quiet sounds, saying “Can you hear this one?” and holding things up to my ear.

The cover of Asma's sound journal.

Inner pages from Asma's sound journal.

We couldn't agree more: making sounds is so much fun!

Asma was unleashing all of her creativity, and made several books and sound journals. She was so amazed that almost anything can make sound and be interesting. She hung out at our table for about an hour, telling us about how much she likes walking and writing stories. We talked about things she would like to do at Sunset, and she seemed excited about playing music or even playing music in groups with other people. I suggested a singing circle and she seemed enthused. I really hope for more of these interactions, and am excited to learn more from and about the community!

- Matthew