Sound is something that many of us take for granted and don’t think that deeply about. In fact, sound is exceptionally important, as it can illustrate character, place and time to us, and it can help to determine what we see. Sound aids us every day in communication, localisation and even enhancing cell growth, not to mention adding to our unique qualities as individual.

For the first time ever, the university’s very own Museum Studies School collaborated with an audio-based collection, ‘Unlocking our Sound Heritage’ project, a nationwide endeavour that will help save the nation’s sounds and open them up to everyone. The project aims to preserve and provide access to as much as possible of the nation’s rare and unique sound recordings. The reality is that we only have approximately 15 years in which to save many of our sound collections before they become unreadable and are effectively lost.

This year, on the University of Leicester’s Museum Studies course, students have formed eight groups, and were tasked with creating effective and engaging sound installations using archived or recorded sound. What’s more, the students have been given access to the entire university campus for installation space, and so we’re treated to the opportunity to engage with these installations in our day-to-day life.

The aim is to spotlight missed and unappreciated sounds. By actively bringing the audience’s attention to it, we are urged to listen to the sounds surrounding us, and to connect to the present moment, something which few of us do unless we’re first class mindfulness gurus, and something that can help us to slow down, appreciate life and de-stress.

To experience this super enlightening exhibition for yourself, all you need to do is to download the izi.TRAVEL app onto your phone, look out for signs around campus telling you to plug in a pair of headphones and listen…

We can listen in on funny memories gone by on campus, experiences of coming to live in Leicester from overseas, accounts of the first ever 1921 graduating class of the university, student and staff sound nominations, stories of music within the city of Leicester, and the university’s past function as a mental asylum, exploring everyday experiences of mental health. This project is brimming with variety and fascination. It’s easy to take for granted that when we stand in front of the Fielding Johnson building, or on the steps outside the Charles Wilson, or anywhere on campus, we’re standing on a patch of ground with such a deep history.

Consider as you wander around campus and listen: as we come up to the centenary of the university in 2021, how do our experiences of the university differ from those we hear in these sound installations? How are they similar? Let’s connect to our heritage by listening up.

Beth Green

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