Jaywalking Sydney CSAR Research Fellowship

Here and then – how to locate film and sound archives on a street near you August 2007

Much has been made of the potential for media technologies to distract and divert attention from the here and now of ‘real places’. In particular, the assertion is frequently made that the increasing variety and availability of digital media provide an alternative virtual world, and possibly sound the death knell for the urban environment with which we are familiar.1 For Second Life devotees, the virtual is a place in which to put on new garb, experiment with funky building styles, take on new careers and even make a load of Linden. But those whose allegiance lies with the physical properties of the city will often worry that the tangential will overtake the main game of real-time socio-spatial relationships.

The fast-changing terrain of digital mapping layers both the physical properties of geography and the digital spawn of the web. The geo-web cannot be easily pitted as one side of the virtual/physical binary; as the web in geographic form, it is the street’s physical geography that provides the interface for search criteria entered on location. The potential applications of the geo-web are growing by the day. Google Earth has been engaged in the search for missing persons, its use as a form of surveillance is evidenced by modifications made to the interface during highsecurity events such as the recent APEC Summit in Sydney, Australia. The particular strength of the Google’s geo-web applications, which include both Google Earth and Google Maps, lies in their wide appeal to amateur and professional geographers alike. As a Google product manager has explained:


See Eammon Canniffe, Urban Ethic, p 174.
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“We don’t know where all the endangered species or the pandas in China live, or where the best places to go bird watching are. By providing the tools, we can let other people create it”2. As mobile phone technologies evolve to include GPS receivers, which let the user access the internet according to their specific location, the geo-web is also facilitating a heightened interest in the creation of ‘location-based’ web content. This might span everything from commercially funded travel information and shopping guides, to artistic interventions through use of sound, video and narrative which disrupt or augment a user’s experience of a location. This evolving project – which seeks to redesign not only the web’s search interface but also one’s more physically embodied experience of place – suggests a quite radical reordering of the way media technologies orient and structure daily life. As one locative media proponent has enthused "[p]eople a generation from now will look back on how we viewed the Internet being something you went to use as very quaint and simplistic”3. The Research Fellowship Jaywalking Sydney undertaken through the National Film and Sound Archives’ (NFSA) Centre for Scholarly and Archival Research (CSAR) explored the opportunities afforded by developments in geo-web applications and mobile computing for the use and distribution of film and sound archives on location. From a historian’s point of view, the immediate appeal of these services lies in the opportunity they provide to facilitate an experience that combines or layers both the built and recorded history of an area in-situ, connecting with an environment both as it has been documented – and in turn archived – and as it See Wired, p5. 3 John Geraci, Grafedia http://grafedia.com/, see http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0707/p12s02-stin.html

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presents to our senses, ‘right here, right now’. Using film and sound archives in this way means the user can experience a remix of both ‘here’, and ‘then’, at the same time. With these possibilities in mind, the Research Fellowship set out to identify the availability of archival material that dealt directly with the street, or more specifically the growth and development of Sydney’s urban environment. Available archival material – text, audio, photographs, and possibly moving image as well – in turn formed the basis of ‘Jaywalks’ that facilitate interaction with both the built and recorded history of an environment. Presenting historical archives on location presents a number of exciting possibilities and challenges: How to research the availability of location specific archival material as well as ‘ambient recordings’ (e.g. what exists?); how to build narrative that reflects both built and recorded history? There is also an opportunity to tell the history of the ‘cine-city’, the city as recorded on film, and to in turn explore the bonds that exist between film and architecture, between the art of memory and that of mapmaking. Fundamental to this research is also an interest in how urban history more generally might facilitate greater environmental awareness, and specifically an appreciation that the project of citybuilding is always in-the-making, not done and dusted, but dynamically shaped and contoured according to the daily habits, beliefs, and even dreams, of its inhabitants, both past and present. This article explores the expanding terrain of the geo-web and the opportunities and insights it might offer those interested in the history of the city. The focus for activity has been in Sydney, Australia, with a particular focus on the inner city suburb that goes by the delightful name of Wooloomooloo. The journey – through the archives and through the streets – is far from complete. This article simply offers some observations from along the way.

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The virtual – getting kinda physical Online maps have been moving into some interesting terrain of late. Over the past two years, map providers like Google, Microsoft and Yahoo have created tools that let anyone with an internet connection layer their own geographic obsessions on top of ever more detailed road maps and satellite images. Such tools are helping to cultivate a growing market for sophisticated and exploratory uses of the ‘geo-web’ – the web in geographic form – as well as tens of thousands of personal map ‘mashups’ which plot text, links, and other data onto maps from around the globe. No longer confined to the formulations of a select group of highly trained cartographers, the contours of the geo-web can now be outlined and augmented by teems of internet connected amateur enthusiasts. It’s a new Babel, where each weird and wonderful geographical interpretation finds its own unique coordinate. Geo-web tools like Google Maps and Google Earth are essentially search engines which use a map-based interface to locate information. As the Google Earth download site explains “Google Earth is much more than just mapping software. It's a tool for viewing, creating and sharing location-specific information which can be explored in an interactive and visually intuitive interface”4. Having been downloaded 250 million times since its launch in June 2005, Google Earth, which uses satellite imagery rather than street maps, is seen to offer the potential to change the way people view, and document their world5. Tourists can ‘preview’ their destinations prior to travel – and when they get home again upload their photos to the site by ‘tagging’ them to specific destinations. Part of the demand for more sophisticated digital maps is coming from developments in mobile phone technology. As the informational space of the web becomes available to intrepid 3G mobile users, multi-dimensional online maps can in turn be viewed in-situ, becoming in a sense an informational overlay
4 5

http://earth.google.com/tour/thanks-mac4.html wired. P 4
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to one’s own physically embodied experience of an environment. In-built GPS (Global Positioning Satellite) receivers in mobile phones means, as one advertising campaign put it, your phone can ‘tell you where to go’. This, combined with 3G internet capability, essentially offers location specific data which has been uploaded to digital maps via your mobile phone, on location. ‘Location-based services’ (LBS) and ‘locative media’ each engage directly with the expanded range of commercial and narrative capabilities and conventions afforded by these innovations. They utilise a range of technologies to determine location, from site-specific stories which can be heard on your mp3 player (like a recorded walking tour), to the provision of commercial tourist information and services using complex databases accessible via satellite. The range of services, and the technologies they utilise, varies considerably; nevertheless they have in common an interest in what the added dimension of location has to offer.

Location based services, once they hit the mass market, have the potentially to significantly change the nature of the internet, as more and more information and interactive media becomes centred around the location of users. "People a generation from now will look back on how we viewed the Internet being something you went to use as very quaint and simplistic," says John Geraci, who founded Grafedia, which uses graffiti or ‘words written anywhere’, to link to images, video or sound files online6. Commercial map providers like Navteq and Sensis are exploring licensing opportunities their maps provide. Starbucks, for example, pays Sensis to list its locations and contact numbers on its maps. Navteq is developing a Discovering Cities initiative which provides tourist information via its global maps. Mobile content aggregators are also interested in licensing video to be used as part of ninemsn’s mobile tourist services. The appeal of the Google geo-web

http://grafedia.com/, see http://www.csmonitor.com/2005/0707/p12s02-stin.html
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applications is that anyone can upload material to these without paying a license fee. Many locative arts projects make use of novel methods through which to make their project accessible, outside of the ‘walled garden’ of the mobile carrier.7 Just as websites use hyperlinks to connect information, these projects use ‘tags’ placed at specific sites to provide information required to connect, using a mobile device, to the project’s source material. This can be as basic as posting mobile phone numbers on signs around a neighbourhood, as used by the Canadian project called [murmur], which users can call ‘to hear an anecdotal history of the site recorded and archived by someone who knows its history’8. Other projects use RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) which require special readers9, or barcodes photographed by a phone which connect to a website10, and bluetooth. As the UK artist Simon Pope has suggested, “the novelty of [locative] projects seem to be in the way they extend the human community to include an array of agents, arranged in space which includes antennae, rooftops, trees, buildings, masts and the like”11. Semapaedia barcodes, once printed and ‘tagged’ on a street, can be photographed by your mobile phone, taking you to a relevant Wikipedia website. This, like Grafaedia, is a relatively low-fi option that introduces the idea of a treasure hunt into the experience of location-based internet surfing. Between 2004 and 2006 UK arts group Proboscis developed an experimental software platform called Urban Tapestries12 for what they call ‘knowledge Lack of commercial appeal is also a factor. www.murmurtoronto.ca 9 This is popular in the UK where the London rail card Oyster uses RFID. 10 See, for example, Semapaedia.com 11 S. Pope, “The Shape of Locative Media”, Mute Magazine Issue 29, February 9, 2005. 12 See http://urbantapestries.net/
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mapping and sharing – ‘public authoring’, which aims to enable to become authors of the environment around them. It combines mobile and internet technologies with geographic information systems to allow people to build relationships between places and to associate stories, information, pictures, sounds and videos with them. In this way digital maps are clearly no longer just useful guides to finding your way to the next meeting. A recent feature by Wired13 on developments in the field concluded that “we’re all mapmakers now, which means geography has entered the complex free-for-all of the information age, where ever more sophisticated technology is better able to reflect the world’s rich, chaotic complexity”. The particular significance – and strength – of these open source web-based tools lies in the ability of anyone with an internet connection to contribute, essentially forming a volunteer army of amateur cartographers. As a Google product manager has explained: “We don’t know where all the endangered species or the pandas in China live, or where the best places to go bird watching are. By providing the tools, we can let other people create it” (wired, p5). Information designer Dan Hill, formerly of BBC Music interactive, describes his experience of Barcelona in Google Earth, and speculates about some possible extensions:
My overwhelming sensation at this point was a desire to slide the city back through its development, to watch the port developments shrink back on to land, to see the Eixample retreat block by block, to watch the city walls rise up again ... And then slide it forward. […]There is almost unlimited potential here - including overlaying different periods, annotations, a more suitable user interface etc. […] After accumulating a few hours of virtual city stalking, it occurred to me that it's all so quiet. 10000 feet up, one might expect not to hear anything. Closer to the ground, 70 feet up, we'd surely have a sense of the sound of the city? Imagine being able to turn on 'sound' and hear the sounds drifting up to meet us celestial listeners to Google Earth. There are numerous

Wired ‘Google Maps is Changing the Way We See the World” 26 6 07.
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field recordings available – with plenty more to follow once location based services really kick off – with which we could augment the images with some richer representations of earth.14

Here the interaction designer’s specialised experience in the design and architecture of information – how to develop straightforward and compelling navigational experiences through the world of networked data – converges with an urbanist’s fascination with the multiple forms, layers and experiences of the city. Information designers have thus begun ‘reading’ the modern metropolis for the multiple layers, whether visible and not, that condense and give shape to the space of the city, presented as both informational space and as the physical spaces comprised of buildings, streets, and parks. So to Dan Hill, while Google Earth is essentially utlilitarian, it inadvertently ‘creates a near transcendental experience’15.

Many of the spatial interrogations of information designers are published independently to the Google sites. ‘Searchscapes: Manhattan’ for example, offers‘a tridimensional map’ of Manhattan utilising existing data from the web. The site explains:
Each person constructs his/her image of the city. This image is made out of facts, memories, experiences, stories, news - mostly invisible data, and not only of architecture, buildings and streets. The objective is to compare the city's "physical spaces" and "information spaces" (search results). This is an attempt to materialize information: to give it dimension and physicality16.

Christian Nold goes even further with his Bio-Mapping project17, which maps people's emotional arousal in conjunction with their geographical location. More recently the real estate company Trulia have gone some way toward fulfilling Dan

Dan Hill, Jan 26 2006, at http://www.cityofsound.com/blog/2006/01/two_possible_go.html 15 ibid 16 http://searchscapes.net/ 17 http://biomapping.net/

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Hill’s fantasy with the launch of a new site called Trulia Hindsight18. This enables users to watch the growth of streets, neighbourhoods and cities over time, using the gold mine of the real-estate company's vast amount of data from all property sales in the United States, mapped to location and over time back to the early 20th century. Historians are also exploring the potential of Google Maps for storytelling. John Hopkins academics Jay Crim and Shekar Davarya spent the summer of 2002 driving across the country on Route 66, collecting interviews with the people who live, work and travel on the old road. The audio, video and images on their Google Map page America's Highway: Oral Histories of Route 66 are the result of that summer, and offer a glimpse into what life was like on the nowdecommissioned highway and what remains for those who still travel the road. The America's Highway project was intended to create both a history lesson on America of the past as well as a travel guide for visitors on 66 today19. Developments in the geo-spatial web are in this way inspiring a new appreciation of the malleability and complexity of spatial form. The networked environment of online information – infinitely connected, layered, filtered, and forwarded – in turn becomes a prism through which to represent the many indices of the earth. MIT Professor Sherry Turkle has noticed how ‘windows’ and ‘links’ have become potent metaphors for a multiplicity of perspectives, enabling the expression of different aspects of self – and place.20

See http://hindsight.trulia.com/ 19 See http://maps.google.com/maps/ms? ie=UTF8&hl=en&msa=0&msid=103763259662194171141.000001119b4b42bf062c2&z =5&om=1. The work was supervised by Professor Bill Leslie, History of Science Department and Mike Reese, Center for Educational Resources, The Johns Hopkins University. 20 In Life on the Screen: Identity in the Age of the Internet, Simon & Schuster NY, 1995, quoted in Lucy Bullivant Responsive Environments: Architecture, Art and Design, V&A contemporary, London, 2006, p11.

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Mapping a history of the cine-city In her book called Atlas of Emotion, Guilana Bruno mapped21 a cultural history of the spatio-visual arts, observing that “in our own time, in which memories are (moving) images, the cultural function of recollection has been absorbed by motion pictures” 22. She considers a history of cinema in the context not only of developing conventions of ‘sight-seeing’ but also ‘site-seeing’. Her work moves away from a long-standing focus within film theory on sight toward the construction of a moving theory of site, initiating what she describes as a ‘theoretical shift from the optic to the haptic’. She argues:
cinema defines itself as an architectural practice. It is an artform of the street, an agent in the building of city views. The landscape of the city ends up interacting closely with filmic representations, and to this extent, the streetscape is as much a filmic ‘construction’ as it is an architectural one. Filmic incarnations…become part of its geography23.

Upon Bruno’s ‘map’ appear examples of Italian neo-realist film, early dal vero films (shot from real life), and the ideas of filmmakers from Sergei Eisenstein to Wim Winders. Bruno notes that in the 1920s the city became the subject of a number of landmark films that shaped the body of the ‘cine city’ in important ways, such as Manhattan (Paul Strand and Charles Cheeler, 1921), Metropolis (Fritz Lang, 1926), Berlin Symphony for the Big City (Walter Ruttmann, 1927), and The Man with the Movie Camera (Vertov, 1929). Italian neo-realism, such as Bicycle Thieves (Vittorio De Sica), was concerned with daily urban fiction, making “any-space-whatever proliferate – urban cancer, undifferentiated fabrics, pieces of wasteground”24.

Bruno also explores the role of cinema in expressing a love of place. For a director like Wim Wenders, “landscape has everything to do with cinema”. Bruno recalls that Wenders, like Antonioni, is affected by a form of ‘topophilia’, a She uses this term metaphorically, in the more general sense of a survey. Bruno, G. Atlas of Emotions - Journeys in Art, Architecture and Film, Verso NY, 2002, p8. 23 Bruno, p27 24 Gilles Deleuze, Cinema 1 The Movement Image, quoted in Bruno, p30.
21 22

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syndrome, first defined by the geographer Yi-Fu Tuan, that manifests itself variously as the love of place25. For Wenders topophilia concerns the ‘habitability’ of place, which involves ‘always, a work of mourning, a resistance’ that provides ‘the energy to travel inside the site to know it and describe it’ filmically26. Bruno’s excavations bring to light Walter Benjamin’s seminal ideas on the space of the modern city developed during the 1920s. Part of his legacy was to render the city and its structures – buildings, streets, laneways, intersections, shopping centres, tenements, all of them fine, solid things – as porous, constituted not only by what we see but the organic totality of what is both seen and what is concealed, ‘an interpenetration of modern and archaic, interior and exterior’ (Gilloch, 1997, p25). As Richard Williams has noted, Benjamin’s understood the city to be a “multi-authored, layered phenomenon, whose existence was found as much in its representation in cultural ephemera as in material objects like buildings”27. Such ideas remain highly relevant to the work of contemporary practitioners such as Jeremy Height, who in 2003 developed an interactive site specific narrative which used GPS to deliver a sound-based historical fiction set about the railroad industry in downtown LA. The project, titled ’34 North, 118 West’ and undertaken in collaboration with Jeff Knowlton and Naomi Spelling, made use of a GPS device to not only determine the user’s position but also how the story was delivered, such that the landscape became the interface, where the user’s footsteps would trigger moments in time, enabling them to wander through a landscape “inhabited by the sonic ghosts of another era”28. Sounds included old wooden carriage wheels, an older car horn, and trains where remnant tracks See Topophilia: A study of environmental perception, attitudes and values. Wenders interviewed in Cahiers du CCI, no 1, 1986, pp104-7, quoted in Bruno p34 27 Williams, R. The Anxious City, p21. 28 See quicktime piece about the project at http://34n118w.net/34N/site_media/34NORTH_4x3.mov. See also http://34n118w.net/htmldir/Descriptn.html
25 26

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appeared in streets or where trains would have passed. In his online essay titled ‘Narrative Archeology’ Height draws on Benjamin, explaining:
A city is constructed in layers: infrastructure, streets, population, buildings. The same is true of the city in time: in shifts in decay and gentrification; in layers of differing architecture in form and layout resonating certain eras and modes in design, material, use of space and theory; in urban planning; in the physical juxtaposition of points and pointers from different times. Context and sub-text can be formulated as much in what is present and in juxtaposition as in what one learns was there and remains in faint traces ( old signs barely visible on brick facades from businesses and neighborhood land usage long gone or worn splintering wooden posts jutting up from a railroad infrastructure decades dormant for example) or in what is no longer physically present at all and only is visible in recollection of the past29.

Archival research to inform such projects initiates a kind of archaeology – of recorded action, rather than surviving artefact. Graham Gilloch suggests in Myth and Metropolis that “[t]he task of the archaeologist is to dig beneath the surface of the modern city and the modern sensibility it engenders, to unearth the evidence of past life and the shocks that have become lodged in the depths of the unconscious”30. As Eammon Caniffe, an urban planning theorist from Manchester, has noted “historical remains in the urban context have already undergone an editorial process where their significance rests in their very survival”31. He suggests that “[h]istory’s meaning for the city lies in what remains and what has disappeared rather than what might be replicated or what is ignored” (Canniffe, 2006, p79). In a similar vein, an archaeology of the cine-city – the city recorded over time – must also contend with existing editorial processes designed for a history of http://www.xcp.bfn.org/hight.html 30 Gilloch, 1997, p70. 31 Canniffe, 2006, p78.

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cinema, or a history of musical composition and recording, rather than that of the urban habitat. This is not a criticism of existing curatorial practices but rather points to an emerging field of practice, whose interest in archives extends beyond that of the space of the cinema to new spaces – streets, railways tracks, demolished buildings and ruins – spaces whose documentary heritage is appealing to different audiences in new and intriguing ways. Researching a history of the street at the NFSA The way in which changes to the urban fabric have been recorded and documented over time was a major theme of the Research Fellowship. Prior research indicated the National Film and Sound Archives presented a range of perspectives on urban change, accessible through oral histories and ‘yarn spinners’, musical recordings, radio, newsreel footage, 35mm negatives, and films – representing first hand, reported, or reflected experiences. Three Sydney based locations were identified as potential research subjects: Pyrmont, Wooloomooloo and a stretch of Hickson Rd, Walsh Bay known as ‘the Hungry Mile’. These sites were selected for their historical significance, both as subjects of recorded history and more broadly as locations of cultural and historical resonance within Sydney’s urban development. These locations served as a research guide, however the research identified useful footage and material beyond these specific sites as well. A particular focus was also on sound recordings undertaken on location throughout different periods of Sydney’s history. Items obtained in the course of Fellowship research included a range of early filmic documentation of Sydney’s city streets, which focused on changes to its built environment, its transportation systems and its public culture. Much of this early footage was shot between 1908 and 1930s by Movietone news and Cinesound.

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Three documentaries were also obtained, with permission granted by copyright holders. These included two documentaries by Sydney filmmaker Pat Fiske, shot during the 1970s: Wooloomooloo and Rocking the Foundations. These documentaries profile the history of the Builders' Labourer's Federation of N.S.W, including newsfile footage of the Juanita Neilson case, film footage of a street party in opposition to the Victorian St development, as well as extensive material on the Green Bans and its role in the protection of Australia’s built heritage. Much of Wooloomooloo was shot and recorded on-location. The third documentary was Concrete City, produced by Frontyard Films and dealing with community unrest surrounding the redevelopment of the Pyrmont peninsula in the mid to late 1990s. In 1995 Pyrmont Bay was the site of Australia’s largest urban development, which completely transformed the topography of the environment. This development was fiercely opposed, particularly by local residents who fought to maintain the area’s community facilities and unique character, which reflected its special role in Sydney’s growth as a whole. . Unexpected finds included the discovery of three feature length films shot on location in Wooloomooloo during the 1920s: The Kidstakes, Sunshine Sally and The Sentimental Bloke. These feature the busy street life of the times, dealing with such issues as the experience of poverty and class in a poor inner city district, children’s game-playing and general shenanigans and lost loves – much of occurring in the out-of-doors, on the street. An original focus for the research was the NFSA’s sound collection, in particular location based sound recordings. The research identified a very limited number of ambient recordings, outside of those included in the Fiske documentaries. This in part reflects the history of sound recording technology, which prevented much sound recording occurring outside of the studio.

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Description of work The Jaywalking Sydney project explores the documentation of Sydney streets using archival film and sound recordings. You don’t have to sit at the computer using a search engine – you can navigate these archives as you walk around the city. Victoria St soundwalk Victoria St, Kings Cross is one of Sydney’s most prized locations, described by the National Trust in the 1970s as the ‘Montmartre of Sydney’. The Victoria St soundwalk deals with the street in the 1970s, when developer Frank Theeman won approval to build three 45 story residential towers on the western side overlooking the city. The Victoria St Residents Action Group opposed the development and gained the support of the Builders Labourers Federation (BLF) who instituted a ‘Green Ban’ on the site which prevented any builders labourer from working on the site. The protest movement swelled to include students, communists, artists and other activists who all opposed the developer’s plans, which would, as they saw it “remove the right of low-to middle income workers to live on the street”. As protesters and squatters held up development, the fight turned ugly; protesters were intimidated, beaten, even murdered. Both sides had their victories and their losses – Theeman was eventually able to build, but the delays cost him $4m (in 1970s dollars), and even then he only gained approval to build one out of three of his apartment blocks, which stands today. The protesters had prevented the demolition of a number of historic houses on the street and by so doing had limited Theeman’s plans, but they hadn’t been able to prevent the eviction of low-income tenants like Mick Fowler, who worked down at the docks at Wooloomooloo. Juanita Nielsen lost her life. As former BLF President Jack Mundey saw it, after the events of Victoria St, governments at all levels, Federal State as well as City councils, would no longer be able to go ahead and approve development plans without consulting the wishes of the people.
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Ultimately, each side was fighting over their rights to a street, which represented their claim on the city, and what it meant to them. For Frank Theenan the city was obviously all about making money, whatever the cost. For the Askin government who approved Theenan’s plans for the site, there was a need to attract large-scale property investment, to remake city as a global city of international standing. For the BLF the fight was about workers’ rights to a safe working environment in the city, one that accommodated not only the needs of the wealthy but those of the working classes too. For local residents it was a fight to stay at home. What is seen today on Victoria St gives little indication of its remarkable history, but nevertheless the story is richly documented in audiovisual history, particularly thanks to the dedicated work of documentary maker Pat Fiske. The NFSA collection includes two of her documentaries, Wooloomooloo and Rocking the Foundations, which each deal with aspects of the story. The NFSA collection also contains songs from the Green Bans movement, and oral history recordings and/or transcripts with Jack Mundey, BLF President at the time, and documentary maker Pat Fiske. The Victoria St walk combines Fiske’s location recordings of the protesters in the 1970s - clashing with police, gathering at the eviction of Mick Fowler, being interviewed by Fiske. It also of featuring excerpts of her interviews with key players about the events occurring on the street, as well as protest songs, location recordings of the street today, and some of my own reflections on the street’s history. This component of the project is deliberately focused on the use of sound to create an experiential aural environment that layers the present and the past. This component draws on my own doctoral study into the opportunities provided by the sound for site specific story telling and environmental awareness. As it is
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designed to be heard ‘in-situ’, via mp3 format, it is today’s streetscape that provides the visuals. It is not intended to be listened to in a darkened room. Jaywalking Map Jaywalking Sydney also explores how Sydney streets can be navigated using new, open source digital maps. These maps provide a new search interface through which to present archival recordings – that of the street’s geography. Using the Google Maps application, film and sound excerpts along with photos and text have been uploaded to reflect their location. Using GPS-enabled mobile phones these excerpts could also be made available for download on location. In this example the material is not publicly accessible. Future directions The development of location-based services provides exciting opportunities for the presentation of archival material in-situ. The rise of map-based search interfaces should be of particular appeal to archiving institutions, whose existing repositories are of increasing appeal to the increasingly geographically-aware audience of global web users.

However the new tools of geo-web and mobile applications do not themselves serve to guide us toward new fields of understanding about the places we love to inhabit. That remains the job of the historians, the researchers and the storytellers who remain fascinated with the interweaving narratives, political and socio-economic forces, personalities and personal experiences that give muscular and unique definition to sites and spaces. From a research perspective, developments in digital media technologies outlined in this article provide some new editorial axes through which to explore the city, navigating potentially fruitful interactions between what remains, what has been lost, and what remains archived in dark, cold storage rooms on fine sunny days.

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