The citynumberscapes are broadcast on ResonanceFM's Clear Spot programme on July 2 (London cns by Louis Lamp), July 3 (Amsterdam cns by Harold Schellinx) & July 4 (Paris cns by Harold Schellinx), between 8 and 9 pm UK time (that's between 9 and 10 pm in Paris, Amsterdam). During the July 3 & 4 broadcasts there'll be a live tweet of all the numbers spoken, @soundblog (hashtag: #cityns).
For those who missed the July broadcasts: 'Amsterdam by Numbers (Amsterdam Getalsgewijs)' is rebroadcast by ResonanceFM's Clear Spot on August 15th, 'Paris by Numbers (Paris en Chiffres)' on August 16th, also between 8 and 9 pm UK time (that's between 9 and 10 pm in Paris, Amsterdam)

(May 2013) Along with 420+ (and counting) next numbers, extracts from the CityNumberScapes are currently streaming 24/7 as part of RAUDIO's 0-channel [ Y.Next_Numbr = ]


july 01, 2012.

The morning of Tuesday May 22nd, a re-tweet by @ResonanceFM of a tweet by a twitter-user called @autodespair caught my eye. It mentioned a 1 hour show on the fine & adventurous London based radio station, "where someone walks London reading out numbers they see around them". Something, @autodespair added, that "should confuse the number station listeners".

Regular SoundBlog viewers will be but little surprised that @autodespair's tweet caught my attention and aroused my curiosity. A lot. 'Number reading' and 'counting' over the years have been recurrent topics on these pages, as witnessed by entries on number stations, on the ongoing readings of On Kawara's 'One Million Years (past and future), and of course on the works of the ookoi, in which numbers have always played a major role. (The uTube clip shows the ookoi during the 2006 Audioscoop Placard, in Intro in situ's Klankwerkplaats in Maastricht (the Netherlands), performing a random permutation of 1-1024...)

After having read @autodespair's tweet, I searched the ResonanceFM web site, to see if I could dig up that citynumberscape broadcast. But I could not. So I replied to the tweet, convinced that @autodespair and/or @ResonanceFM would be able to help me out...

The reply I got had me laugh out loud. "Sorry," @autodespair wrote, "made it up. Strangely there aren't that many numbers around unless you are around vehicles, perhaps they don't have the same imperative quality of words."

Now that could have been the end of it, were it not that the twitter conversation continued for a bit, and also @ResonanceFM jumped in, proposing that we actually make @autodespair's fictional numerological broadcast.

And so it happened that I got to know know Louis Lamp, who uses autodespair as a moniker.

"I have been collecting audio clips from grime station recordings," Louis told me, "mostly on youtube and archive.org, with the intention of collecting the moments where the mc's/hosts of the pirate radio show are giving out the phone number for shout outs (the beginning of this clip is an example), the frequency of radio stations, and the other miscellaneous numbers they are saying. In the end I want to make a mix of hopefully 20-30 mins, of solely numbers. ( * ) The intention was to re-create a sort of number station made from these, often changed, mobile numbers and frequencies, a sort of human voice Number Station (the idea that these numbers may actually be communicating something interested me).
I have also been learning the programming language Processing, to use these numbers in some visual way. Further down the line I'd like to learn some workings in Supercollider to transform these numbers back into sound."

"So that is why I have been thinking about Numbers Stations (which are fascinating in their own right - although I have never managed to find one on my SW radio myself), and the idea of a man wondering around a city babbling the numbers around him - it sort of relates to my daytime job as data-enterer at one of London's dullest marketing insight agencies. Doing 9-5.30 in an Excel spreadsheet, inputting numbers... you sort of can't help walk around seeing numbers everywhere!"

city numbers

It thus came about that, after some discussion with ResonanceFM's Content Manager Richard Thomas, Louis and I agreed to record three citynumberscapes, to be broadcast early July in ResonanceFM's Clear Spot programme. Each of our citynumberscapes was to last one hour, and would essentially be what I had imagined when I read Louis' original tweet. As Richard neatly summarized: "A field/quotidian recording of urban space, peppered with recited numbers found within the landscape, as artlessly as possible, with little or no montage or post-production: simply press record, walk and speak; then stop recording one hour later..."

London - May 29th, 2012

[ Broadcast: ResonanceFM - Clear Spot, July 02nd 8h-9h pm (UK time). Numbers recited in English ]

Louis recorded his London citynumberscape on May 29th.

"I took the day off from Excel spreadsheets," he says, "and walked the perimeter of a 'brand exclusion' zone around one of London's Olympic Zones - the ExCel conference centre, reading out numbers seen in the landscape.
Following the 'Advertising and Street Trade Restrictions venue restriction zone' as closely as possible starting at the Excel centre, where the annual Plastics Design And Moulding Exhibition And Summit was being held alongside The Summer Graduate Fair.


Travelling anti-clockwise around the circuit, passing the Emirates Air line cable car, Silvertown (soon to be redeveloped by Arup as a "cluster for technology, medical and brand companies"estimated cost of project - £1.2 billion) London City Airport with it's anxiety-inducing lowflying aircraft, Premier Inn offering rooms for £29 a night, where a lonely film crew's equipment offered some electronic interference, and finally completing the loop by returning to the ExCel centre.
The temperature reached approximately 24°C, 55% humidly levels with a high pollen count (number unknown)."

Amsterdam - May 24th, 2012

[ Broadcast: ResonanceFM - Clear Spot, July 03rd 8h-9h pm (UK time). Numbers recited in Dutch. Rebroadcast: ResonanceFM - Clear Spot, August 15th 8h-9h pm (UK time). ]

I recorded the Amsterdam citynumberscape on May 24th, roughly between 4.15 and 5.15 pm. The walk, on a very hot and sunny afternoon, is sketched in the map below. I started recording in the south, near the Sarphatipark, walked up to the Central Station, and from there back south again. After a little over one hour of recording and 1458 numbers later I arrived at the Weteringcircuit, where I pressed the stop button of my Zoom H2.

amsterdam ns

Paris - June 19th, 2012

[ Broadcast: ResonanceFM - Clear Spot, July 04th 8h-9h pm (UK time). Numbers recited in French. Rebroadcast: ResonanceFM - Clear Spot, August 16th 8h-9h pm (UK time). ]

A couple of weeks later, on June 29th, a warm but greyish and cloudy day, I set out around lunchtime for a citynumberscape walk in Paris. This time I started recording on the Pont d'Arcole. I crossed the river Seine, passed along the Notre Dame into the Latin Quarter, back across the river, and walked straight on to the Centre Pompidou. From there I circled Les Halles, went down the Rue du Louvre, turned left and walked along the Rue de Rivoli, until - one hour and 1298 numbers later - I found myself facing the Parisian City Hall.

amsterdam ns

[ Image credits: Each of the (randomly rotating) masthead images on this page shows a city skyline drawing inside the 'data-cloud'. I found the images on the web. These are links to their sources: Amsterdam skyline drawing, Chicago skyline sketch, cityscape sketch, skyline, abstract skyline. ]

notes __ ::
(*) Here is autodespair's Grime Numbers Station, as it can be found on SoundCloud:

[ ^ ]

tags: fieldrecording, Resonance FM, numbers, citynumberscape

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