Urban Sound Play

Where Is My Oginoshima project poster – black and white Tokyo metro/train maps overlapped with small green patch

Where Is My Oginoshima?

This sound poem of Tokyo was recorded in response to the disturbingly loud, chaotic overlap of noises Ioana was suddenly exposed to, after spending the previous week in the peaceful, green, mountain village of Oginoshima. This urban audio collage documents both the sounds of Tokyo and acts as a search for peace, for “My Oginoshima.”
The final composition is a series of sound periods. Executed on a basic tape recorder, without the ability to mix separate tracks, but only to rewind and record on top, it is a crude composition. The first period [I] is a group of heavy sounds full of disruptive overlaps. As a relief to the first, the second period [II] is a mostly empty space-time filled with very few sounds. Wrapping up, the third period [III] comes back to the fullness of the city and ends with the trembling question “Where is my Oginoshima?”


Played in the dark at Meiji University, Tokyo, Japan (audience incl. Reiko Tomita of Team Zoo who remarked she had never noticed that that is how Tokyo sounds)


MIT Japan Design Workshop (self-directed)


Simple tape recorder (mixing: rewind & record on top)


“Craziness : Insanity : Black Swan : Tokyo”, Ioana Urma, Continuity / Transformation in Architecture & Community Form, MIT Dept. of Architecture, 2000
Zoom into Where Is My Oginoshima project poster
Transcript of Tokyo sound collage
Black and white photo collage of busy Tokyo


Recording/Mix & Visual Content: Ioana Urma.
Phop/drawing collage of Metropolitan Storage Warehouse and train tracks with mud, view from Mass Ave, Cambridge

Flood, See, Nothing

This proposal for a sound-based public art project was intended to highlight the romantic qualities of the west facing train tracks crossing Mass Ave at MIT. This is Ioana’s favorite space around MIT because it seems unfinished – muddy and endless – and by that, full of possibilities; and, in its emptiness and isolation – framed by a giant, windowless warehouse and a small nuclear reactor – it is quiet, allowing for reflection.
The project consisted of two parts: a “flood” of historic recordings of steam trains (romantic sounds) would emmanate from the train tracks out toward the street, directing the attention of passersby to these infinite, sunset facing rails (the train hardly ever passes on these tracks); and the dirt/mud would extend out of this space and across the paved Mass Ave, to call attention to this raw pocket of freedom through tactile sensation.
After much research into its implementation (decibel levels, the sound quality, power source, funding), MIT & the MBTA (metro transportation) did not grant the project permission to be implemented, citing complicated safety and jurisdictional concerns. It wasn’t clear who was in charge over this space, which is exactly the freedom Ioana wanted to call attention to.


Train Tracks, Cambridge, MA


MIT Public Art Seminar (self-directed)
Phot/drawing collage of train tracks and mud next to Metropolitan Storage Warehouse, view from Mass Ave, Cambridge
Flood, See, Nothing poster
Poetic thoughts while working on project
Train tracks view from Mass Ave, Cambridge, in summer


Concept/Design & Photo Collages: Ioana Urma. Train recordings: “Remembering Steam” produced by Green Frog Productions, Ltd. Photo of train tracks in summer: Hao Zhu.