Soundscapes of Prishtina

Listening and sensing the city – the fear of silence

When we started listening to the Soundscapes of Pristina one thing jumped into our minds: Most of the sounds are emitted through loudspeakers. Bars and restaurants are constantly competing to be louder and to be heard. It sometimes starts very early in the morning until late at night. Mostly Albanian-Pop Music, sometimes Jazz and Western Pop Hits of the 80 and 90 are played in a repeating playlist. Observing the choice of music you find out that it’s not meant to be listened to but merely as a decoration, that is as loud as their visual counterpart.

The second thing that we realized is that cars dominate the soundscape, especially during the summer period, when the Diaspora with pimped sports cars want to be heard and seen. As the streets cut through the city they can be heard trough-out the whole center.

Thirdly when walking through the city in the evenings one can observe how loud the passerby are and you will realize that you will not find groups walking together in silence.

When the human-made sounds start to fade the dogs are taking over.
Kosovars are known to be social and pro to living in big groups, often you do two things at the same time, look and listen at TV and socialize, silence doesn’t happen often to be accepted in groups, it is something you rather prefer when alone. 

Whereas, listening is perceived as a passive action, society often seems to consider listening as a low social value, where in fact listening is a very active and participatory action in society. So strange, when we at the same time refer to listening as an equal term to feeling. 

Acoustic noise is equally ignored by our institutions, we don’t even have laws that regulate the noise capacity that the human and animal ears can tolerate. Acoustic noise remains a burden only to the residents of the neighborhoods living along these streets and where businesses dominate and abuse these spaces.

The Kosovo Police receives continuous reports on the absurd noise, many times the police either do not react at all, react too late, or react but do not fine the businesses that abuse with noise. One who is reported for noise pollution, as an individual pays up to 500 euros fine. We wonder, if people report businesses how much do the police fines them, or how much revenue does our state have from all these fines that were done?

Or is the police and our state so corrupt that they don’t even fine these businesses?

Public space is not dominated by businesses, cafes, and clubs, only by chairs and terraces scattered in the ground space, public space is dominated and occupied by businesses with hundreds of times more uncontrolled acoustic noise. Acoustic noise is the invisible crime of our cities.

We hope that this work of ours has helped to become aware of the great burden that the residents of neighborhoods in these areas hold, we are hoping that public space remains to be ours acoustically as well. And especially we are hoping that our society appreciates music as a cultural value and not as a decorative and consumerist value.

QR codes on the map mark sidewalks in the form of lines. There is one static recording from a rooftop in the center. The recording start at 02:00 and shows the night soundscape, with nearly no human interaction. are static recordings at various times throughout these last few months, each of which has a distinct zany quality.

We walked along the city between 20:00 and 21:00, when most people go out at night. These are the routes we have covered, where by scanning the QR codes you can hear what these routes sound like:

Walk 1: 

Grand Hotel Prishtina > Sheshi Nënë Tereza > Sheshi Adem Jashari 

Walk 2: 

Rruga 2 korriku > Rruga Sylejman Vokshi > Rruga Qamil Hoxha > Rruga Rexhep Luci > Rruga Fehmi Agani

Walk 3:

Grand Hotel Prishtina > Rruga Garibaldi > Rruga Djure Djakovica > Rruga Mujo Ulqinaku

Walk 4:

Grand Hotel Prishtina > Biblioteka Kombëtare

Static Recording (Night):
Center of Prishtina

By Fabian Gutscher and Njomza Dragusha

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