In November 2014 a specially created audio walk, A Roving Soul: Walking the City with Walter Benjamin, was presented as part of the School of Advanced Study’s Being Human Festival of the Humanities. The piece invited listeners to put on headphones and take a walk through an urban environment of their choice, guided by the critical thought of Walter Benjamin. Focusing specifically on Benjamin’s late work on the Paris arcades, the audio material was designed to be experienced as a fragmentary collage – echoing the form of his uncompleted research. The piece placed commentary from leading Benjamin scholars alongside proposals and suggestions that encouraged listeners to re-assess their habitual engagement with urban space. This article will examine the process of adapting Benjamin’s work, considering how the participatory and interactive framework used within the audio walk encouraged listeners to recognise and construct dialectical images during their individual journeys through urban and imagined space. It will analyse how the dramaturgical approaches employed within the audio walk attempted to highlight the listener/participant’s role as a maker of meaning – creating conditions of reception that can be used to invoke the kinds of dialectical thinking developed by Benjamin.
Edinborough, C. (2016). Constructing dialectical images in sound and space : adapting Walter Benjamin's The Arcades project. Performance Research, 21(3), 47-53. https://doi.org/10.1080/13528165.2016.1176737