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Artist invites Richmondites to walk, listen, and record

Which sounds do you hear when you think of Richmond?
Richmondites are encouraged to tell their stories using sounds from the city.

Armed with a shotgun mic, a recorder, and headphones, Richmondites are crafting their stories with sounds from the city – with the help of a filmmaker.

Sebnem Ozpeta is one of Richmond’s engaging artists in the community this year, and she has partnered up with Walk Richmond and the Richmond Fitness and Wellness Association to hold sound-walk workshops for her public art project, WALK.

“The idea is to collaborate with community members.

“As an artist… it’s really sometimes a challenge that you just don’t have full control. But through the years I think I’ve started to love that component of my work,” said Ozpeta.

Community is very important to the Vancouver-based filmmaker, and she hopes to bring Richmondites together and encourage them to go outside and explore.

“Participants just need to bring their headphones and they just plug in. And we start to record,” said Ozpeta.

By giving participants professional sound equipment, she hopes that they can begin to consider what it means to listen and understand how they are a part of the city’s sounds.

Each workshop starts with a crash course on sounds and sound recording. After walking around and recording sounds at their hearts’ desire, participants can share their stories and reflect on their experiences.

With their permission, Ozpeta would then return to the location another day and film 360-degree videos to accompany the participants’ stories.

Ozpeta held the first workshop at Garden City Park back in June, and she has collected four stories from participants so far.

“One of the stories is about comparing with where [the participant] is from – the sound, for example – and how it’s different,” she said.

“It’s really up to when you create this safe place for people to connect… I’m also experiencing with them, right? It’s not [just] myself going and recording the ‘best’ sound. This is why I really enjoy it,” she said.

Stories from the first workshop paired with interactive 360-degree videos will be uploaded to the project website after they have been edited. By the end of the project, Ozpeta hopes to provide a glimpse into what the Richmond community is like at this moment in time.

“It’s not just the location sound. It’s the collaboration of who lives here or who goes here… The stories are simple… But I think it’s important to have these stories,” she explained.

Follow along with the WALK storytelling project on the project website. Those interested in participating can register for Ozpeta’s next workshop at Horseshoe Slough on July 13 at 9 a.m.