I carried out a number of soundwalks along the Gardiner Expressway and Leslie Street Spit, aimed at exploring and capturing the acoustic and physical properties of both spaces.
I visited the Spit four times over a period of three months (July to early October), as I wanted the viewer to experience seasonal change along this imagined walk.
On my first to the Spit, on a hot summer day in early July 2015, I was surprised by its wilderness. Walking along one of the pedestrian trails off the main entrance, the oldest section of the Spit, one could forget its man made origin. I immersed myself in nature and its sounds; the rustling of the leaves in the gentle breeze, the song of the American robins, the soothing sound of the waves breaking against the shore. It was a busy day at the Spit with a multitude of bird songs and calls, but also many walkers and cyclists.
On that first visit, I found myself frustrated by the sound of planes taking off and landing at the nearby Billy Bishop airport and the voices and steps of the many walkers that were interrupting my enjoyment and recording of the natural environment. On later visits to the Spit, I didn’t notice those ‘artificial’ sounds so much, I became used to them, as it was the only way to listen to everything else. The second visit took place at the end of August, another hot day but much calmer, the soothing and constant chirping of crickets is what I remember most. The third visit, a saturday at the end of September, was still surprisingly hot, but the lake water was very wild, and the background sound of the waves accompanied me most of the way. On the last visit, a cold and rainy saturday in October, the Spit was very quiet, and the water very rough.
I visited the spaces underneath the Gardiner during working days mid morning an early afternoon in September, outside rush hours.
The humming of traffic and sound reverberation from the structure of the elevated road were my constant companions on those visits. The volume of those sounds, however, varied considerably along the length of the structure, dissipating at the points were the structure is higher or the surrounding urban layout open. Over the visits I learned to appreciate the architecture of the arches and the illusion of infinity created by the light filtering through. Over the visits I was also stricken by the sense of desolation ingrained in the spaces.