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What’s Vital Now? Listening to lockdown with Nick Bowman

Posted on 19 June 2020

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Guest Author

This contribution is part of our our new online series: What’s Vital Now? 

The series will explore how placemaking can unlock the potential in people and places, enhancing the quality of our homes, high streets, public spaces, and neighbourhoods and enabling opportunities, interactions and collaboration across all echelons of society. Using the simple premise of What if..?, we are inviting contributors to share their ideas, big and small, for what will drive change and create better places for people.

Nick Bowman composed a lockdown soundtrack using submissions from the UK, USA and Norway. Here, he explains his motivations for doing so, and a note for the future.

“For me, this piece was about several things. Thinking of the lockdown positively, and not just as a difficult time, provided the chance to hear the world differently and appreciate it in a new way. We live in a high-speed visual world, but the lockdown has given us the opportunity to pause and reconsider our lives.

Whilst it is easy to see empty streets, closed shops and fewer cars, other changes may not have been so immediately apparent. Suddenly you can hear the birds, the sound of an aircraft so unexpected that you look up, a siren normally lost in the din. So perhaps now is the time to rediscover sounds that have been lost in the hustle and bustle of modern life.

But it’s not just about listening – less traffic and fewer factories operating mean there is less pollution, so the air tastes and smells better. All our senses can come alive and that should (I hope) stimulate our minds in positive ways.

I’d also say that this is about memory and remembering. In the future, hopefully a birdsong, or the clatter of the keyboard will prompt a memory which would otherwise have been lost. So if there’s a call to action, I would say it’s about being more aware of everything around us and sometimes pausing to appreciate the things that are taken for granted.”