sorry lady, you’re going to die: soundwalk van vorst by Damian Catera

Yesterday we were in Van Vorst Park for the Soundwalk, wearing headphones and listening to little radio sounds as we made our way through the park. We were tuning in to three simultaneous broadcasts of things like historical texts and scores written to coincide with the sounds of the park. There were also hidden microphones that were picking up and transmitting more sounds into the broadcast, but we couldn’t find any. We had a lot of fun with it, dancing around whenever our transmission was broken up by hardcore screamo from a neighboring college station.

We had made our way around every area of the park, and I was photographing the three sculptural pieces on display when on top of her radio broadcast, Allison suddenly heard something like, “Sorry lady, you’re going to die!” Sure enough, she was about to get liquidated by the laser gun this child had just purchased from the Van Vorst Flea Market. How exciting!


Here, Allison has just found out that there is a red dot on her leg from the light of the laser gun. Seconds later, the red dot was aimed at me. Horrors.


This threat of violence was not part of the exhibition but I wanted to find out more about the walk, so I looked it up this morning. From the artists’ post on WiredJC:

The Van Vorst Park Soundwalk is an interactive sound art piece which simultaneously uses the park as a musical score and instrument. The public is invited to experience the piece through portable headset radios as they walk through a loosely defined route within the park.

For a detailed project description please go to:

This is a solo version of collaborative pieces that I’ve participated in in NYC and Warsaw, Poland. The Jersey City Museum has been gracious enough to present the piece to coincide with this year’s JC Artist Studio Tour.


Sounds in the park: many dogs (there is a dog run); running water (fountain); skateboards and scooters scraping on the ground, buses pulling up, stopping, and pulling away; wind; my own footsteps; bird wings flapping (pigeons make a lot of sounds); conga drums (from the Spanish-coalition sponsored flea market set up along the edges of the park).

It was weird to hear historical texts about settlers but not have enough time to sit and really listen to process the context. I have a terrible mind for historical fact and numbers. Definitely made me curious about the history of where I live.

This is the first time I’ve ever participated in something like this and I loved how supported the project seemed: Its nice to know that the Jersey City Museum, NJ Arts Council Fellowship, and free103point9 had the means to make the piece come alive with equipment and programming. I have so many ideas that I always think could never happen, so I guess I found this pretty inspiring. Then again, I didn’t go to art school or anything, so maybe this type of sound sculpture is a common form of interactive design. Either way, super cool and nicely done.

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