2007 “雍和”项目 – 魔幻大街
“雍◎和”——魔幻大街 文 / Zafka
2006年末，我从广州移居北京。我曾说，城市声响（Urban Soundscape）已经是城市正义与否的标注。我还惦记着广州的“不干净”—— 过去二十多年民间资本和移民的主导下，广州城市空间斑斓无序，声响纷繁芜杂，没有城市规划理性主义的政治洁净幻想。
“Yong ◎ He” – The Magic Street
At the end of last year, I moved from Guangzhou to Beijing. I once said that urban soundscape is already an indicator of urban justice. I love the “uncleanness” of Guangzhou. Under the dominance of private capital and immigrants in the past two decades, the urban space of Guangzhou is colorful and disorderly, and there is no illusion of political cleanliness of urban planning rationalism.
Compared with Guangzhou, Beijing is much “cleaner”. The roads are wide and straight, and the global homogeneous traffic sounds are clean and powerful, everywhere. In this ancient capital, the urban spatial layout and acoustic environment have always been the most realistic and direct projections of political order. The tradition continues to today, but the confluence of political and capital power, has become the dominant force in urban change, accelerating Beijing’s urban development to “fracture”-the rift between overall social planning and cultural preservation, individual material survival and development, and psychological and emotional precipitation .
I chose the Lama Temple, an area I have visited the most in Beijing in the past years, trying to listen to and find the subtleties of this fracture. The Lama Temple is located at the northeast corner of Beijing’s Second Ring Road, near the Imperial Palace, the Temple of Confucius, and many old Beijing hutongs. This area is not only a place where Beijing’s traditional sound accumulates, but also its location is an inch of gold. In the past two years, in order to welcome the Olympics and develop the economy, the hutongs near the Lama Temple have been demolished and rebuilt one after another.
From the auditory point of view, Lama Temple Street, which runs from north to south, is the “magic Street” of this area, and is the best footnote to the development of this city. Choosing any hutong entrance from east to west, walking 10-15 meters inward, Lama Temple Street’s noisy traffic and business sounds turned into quietness and peace in a blink of an eye. This is an urban acoustic environment that changes drastically in a narrow geographic space. The narrow alleys, the production axis of urban sound in the pre-industrial era, have now become the most powerful “mufflers” for dealing with the noisy traffic environment.
At the same time, the narrowness of Hutong creates a business and community form different from Lama Temple Street, and also presents a completely different acoustic environment. Bicycles and tricycles, the most common means of transportation in the Hutong, undertake most of the daily transportation and commercial functions (coming to and from get off work, delivering beer, groceries, collecting tatters, delivering newspapers, etc.) and constitute the main body of the acoustic environment. In addition, Hutong is also a traditional community space. The public sound of the hutong partly overlaps the sound of the private living space of the residents—children frolicking, adults scolding, kitchen cooking and etc.
But here is the lowland of capital and the lowland of urban life. I love the tranquility of the hutong, but I can’t assume that I live in the same embarrassment as most groups in this hutong. The people in the hutongs of the Lama Temple area are not as nostalgic as people think. Many people look forward to leaving the narrow and run-down hutongs, and their residences are within the scale of the protected area on the government planning map. This is a paradox, an isolated island, day by day, for them, the tranquility of the alley sounds is too cheap. And in this city, there are many such magical streets. I can only walk many times in Lama Temple and the hutongs near it, using headphones and microphones to try to understand the history of this city’s micro-geographical changes.
There have been too many criticisms of the fractured changes in the city, which has degenerated into an irresponsible nostalgic mood, and then evolved into an insulating, cold and high moralism. I can‘t complain that on the long list of most people’s urban survival needs, the sound environment may only be the last item. The future of urban sound environment reconstruction can only be based on the justice of urban development itself. Such justice lies in the fact that when capital is trying to destroy everything with the logic of maximizing benefits, a deeper political and cultural logic can be awakened, rescued and balanced, and while allowing people to independently determine the direction of development of themselves and the city, provide more forward-looking considerations to avoid development breaks.
The fact is that the rupture of a rapidly changing city is not just a simple conspiracy of capital and politics. This is not the whole story. Everyone is a participant in the change of the city, and everyone is living amidst contradictions. As a new settler in this city, all I can write is a private city sound map and a record about the Lama Temple area. I am just a little worried. Those forgotten city sounds, not only in the physical sense, but also cultural, emotional, and psychological, are the most subtle and fatal parts of urban changes. I look forward to the future, I can hear the sound of the city sheltering justice, I don’t care whether the sound is new or old, whether the decibel is high or low. Because of those ears, they will eventually be awakened.