Location: ARGOS / Koopliedenstraat 62 Rue des Commerçants

Activating Captions: Shannon Finnegan

Shannon Finnegan with Sven Dehens and Chloe Chignell, Rue des Commerçants 62 Sounds (2021) © the artist(s). Photo: Isabelle Arthuis

This presentation is part of the Activating Captions physical window display.

Shannon Finnegan with Sven Dehens and Chloe Chignell
Rue des Commerçants 62 Sounds (2021)

Based on observations during the week of February 15, 2021

This site-specific intervention with vinyl lettering by Shannon Finnegan in collaboration with Sven Dehens and Chloe Chignell of rile* aims to caption the ambient sound of the site where it is installed: the front window of rile* bookshop, facing Rue des Commerçants in the ARGOS building.

Not knowing the site, Finnegan worked with Dehens and Chiggnell in collecting observations about what they hear while minding the bookshop. Together, they worked on conveying the sonic mood of the site, bouncing between descriptive writing and more subjective notes about the feelings certain sounds elicit.

The intervention also relates to the feeling of the unusual time when it was created: right in the heart of the 2021 pandemic winter.

This is the full text featured in the installation:

  • Slow rhythmical beeps, high pitched, seemingly endless (a truck reversing)
  • The low and thick whirr of a heater spreading warm air
  • Tyres rolling over cobblestones, faint rubber popping sounds — this happens regularly
  • Soft pump of a plastic bottle
    Slippery sticky sound, two hands rubbing
    A sniff
    “Mmm (mild surprise), doesn’t smell bad”
  • An aggressive horn, briefly blaring
  • From down the street: muffled laughter, or a kind of thick giggle
  • Squelch of footsteps, faint then louder then faint
  • Silence (heater turns off for a second)
  • Metallic click of door handle
    Tentative push
  • Light pop with a deep voice: “let it go, oh let it all go”
  • Quiet sweeping of old dust and dried grime
  • Squeaky sneakers
  • Keyboard clicking — this continues most of the day
  • Slam of the delivery truck’s door, heavy swing, thunk, ears perk up — thinking maybe something for us? — nothing
  • Another song plays: saxophone waning, shimmering high hats, woman's buttery voice “I like to love” … “but you make me feel lonely” … “build my collection”
  • Almost like thousands of dry leaves being spun around in a dustbin, a crackling woosh (cars passing without slowing)
  • Crowbar clinking, hammering metal to metal
  • Some soul/funk on the radio fading out
  • Two people flipping through books, murmuring, to each other

Koopliedenstraat 62 Rue des Commerçants
1000 Brussels

Activating Captions is organised by ARGOS centre for audiovisual arts in Brussels and is made possible with the support of the Nationale Loterij / Loterie Nationale and Brussels-Capital Region.