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In London, a sound collector intends to record the time


Stuart Fowkes took it into his head to list the sounds of the world. A new project leads him to take an interest in “almost forgotten” objects, from Walkman players to Urania typewriters.

In London, apart from a few tourists, few people pay attention to the iconic red telephone booths.

Most no longer work.

Around the rare ones still in working order prowls a curious character equipped with a device.

A small microphone.

He uses it to record the sounds of the cabin and its bell.

Stuart Fowkes, that's his name, is a collector of missing noises.


I've always been curious about sounds

," explains this enthusiast.

New sounds are emerging faster than ever before in history, but they also change and disappear faster than ever before


Stuart Fowkes set out to preserve all of these sounds in a project he called “

Obsolete Sounds”


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Over the past five years, this Briton has collected and remixed more than 5,000 sounds from 100 countries on his Cities and Memory site.

All are being archived by the British Library.

For his new project, he wants to collect noises that are

“almost forgotten”,

those that he believes have

“the greatest emotional resonance”


"What struck me was how people were moved by some of the recordings,

" says Stuart Fowkes.

You have people who hear the sound of a

Super 8 camera

and they remember being in their living room in 1978 with their father showing home movies for the first time


Ephemeral Technologies

The “Obsolete Sounds” project brings together more than 150 recordings collected around the world and includes mixes of these sounds by musicians and artists.

Presented as the largest collection of its kind, it includes sounds from Walkman cassette players or old video game consoles, but also the sound of steam trains or old racing cars.

Today, everything is changing at a ridiculous pace.

Objects are only a few years old, like cell phone ringtones, when they are already out of date.

Stuart Fowkes

Stuart Fowkes has also recorded the sound of rapidly changing surroundings, such as cracking and melting glaciers.

"Before the industrial revolution, our soundscape - steeples, horse hooves, manual industry - didn't change much for hundreds of years

," he says.

Today, everything is changing at a ridiculous pace.

Objects are only a few years old, such as ringtones for mobile phones, that they are already outdated.

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As he rushes into the London Underground, the sound collector gets back to work.

For him, the screeching of a train arriving at the station or the sound of doors opening and closing are absolutely nothing boring.

“I have always been someone who listens to the world

, he says.

As soon as I had a recorder in my hands, I started listening to the world a little differently and hearing things that people wouldn't necessarily notice or listen to



Stuart Fowkes, digital consultant, launched Cities and Memory in 2015 and has attracted some 1,000 collaborators worldwide.

"Every morning I wake up and I have emails with sounds from completely unexpected places, like a beach in Bali or even a subway in Pyongyang,"

he says.

And these field recordings are fashionable, adds the enthusiast.

Artists like Björk use them in their music.

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Before it was very niche, a bit like the behavior of 'trainspotters'

(passionate railway enthusiasts, Ed.)

but now everyone can record correctly on their phone, it's becoming more and more common

" , says Stuart Fowkes.

The collector is delighted with the enthusiasm generated by his project but would like to receive even more sounds, especially from cities in Africa.

Anyone can participate, he points out, by “

just taking the phone out the window

” before sharing the recording on his site.

He continues for his part to record the sounds of everyday life, a passion that accompanies him everywhere.

As soon as we go on vacation I will say (to my wife): “Did you hear that pedestrian crossing?

I have to register it”


Still, she has to hear it that way.

Source: lefigaro

All life articles on 2022-12-04

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