The Indy Sound Map

Tomorrow, Friday April 4, 2014, marks the fourth First Friday of the year, and the Harrison Center is excited to present “Cities and the Field,” a visual and interactive manifestation by Stuart Hyatt in the Harrison Gallery. The work will include a collage of building materials that serves as a portal from the dark known to the bright unknown, a live performance, and photos taken throughout Hyatt’s Indy Sound Map project. The night will also serve as an album release party for Hyatt’s newest album, “The National Road,” a melodic and poppy album composed of urban sounds, conversations, and Field Works, a loose collection of musicians from around the world. Stuart Hyatt is an artist, composer, cartographer, and ethnographer. He is able to mix all of these identities together with his Indy Sound Map project. The Sound Map is the first sonic map of Indianapolis, with all sounds and stories drawn from Hyatt walking the length of Washington Street, a street rich in 19th-21st century history in the Midwest. The process of creating the sound map is simple: Hyatt walks along street with a backpack and recording devices talking to people along the way. But the results are so much more complex. The Sound Map shows conflicting realities of modern life, a street-level understanding of what it is like to live in a constantly changing city, complexity in everyday things, and hopefully a “bigger more complete truth.”

This is not the first time Hyatt has done a project in which he gives a voice to things usually not heard, or considered nothing. Prison Mixtapes features 40 offenders at the Minnesota state penitentiary system who worked with Hyatt to write, record, and share their music on this album. Another one of Hyatt’s albums, Shrimp Attack, features singers from Creative Clay, a nonprofit arts center in St. Petersburg, FL that allows adults with developmental disabilities to create and exhibit their work. The album reflects the spirit of marginalized people finally having their voices heard. Indy Sound Map is possibly the most literal interpretation of this theme.

Invisible Cities, a novel written by Italo Calvino’s in 1972, inspired Hyatt’s “Cities & the Field.” The novel presents 11 thematic categories given by Marco Polo on his account of his explorations, the categories including “Cities & the Sky” and “Cities & the Dead.” Hyatt decided to name his project “Cities & the Field,” and explore the rise of the Internet’s “invisible waves that surround us.” This is the background for Indy Sound Map and The National Road. He creates a database of moments in his work by capturing sounds and stories. Needless to say, we are very excited to have Hyatt’s work presented at the Harrison Center this First Friday.