Embracing contradictions

It’s been 5 days of constant movement. Movement and sound to create a space of stillness and silence. Contradictions, I guess are part and parcel of interdisciplinary projects. Perhaps however, these are not contradictions but seem like contradictions in a project that is attempting to question an integral part of urban India – the assumption that noise, and loud noise at that, is both a natural and inescapable part of everyday life of the people of Delhi.

The project has been pegged on the idea of decibel levels quantifying sound. The quantitative approach allows us to move towards our goal, of raising awareness of the tremendous levels of sound pollution Delhi engages and inspire some movement towards transforming the situation. Our immediate method of studying the city and our experiment lies very strongly on the assumption that we need to work with only decibel levels. Yesterday however, this idea was complicated a bit. Decibel levels continue to be the cornerstone of the project however a conversation with an anthropologist, Tripta Chandola, allowed for the team to question the qualitative and subjective aspects of sound in the Indian context. Over coffee, eggs and cigarettes Chandola put forth a few questions to the team. Small, innoucus questions that lead to arguments about sound, class, architectures of exclusion, the perception of silence, the gendered aspect to sound in India and a myriad other topics! Our seemingly straightforward idea of advocating for reduced sound pollution was given deeper layers and processes that needed to be kept in mind while dealing with sound pollution.

It’s been an interesting process of understanding our project. I look forward to the conversations, the chaos and contradictions that we need to address through this project.