Archiving Sound in Mexico City



Recently Mexico’s Fonoteca Nacional, National Sound Archive, opened an exhibition dedicated to the paisajes sonoros (sonorous landscapes) of different neighborhoods of Mexico City.

Lauren Villagran reports:

How Mexico City sounds is part of the country’s cultural patrimony, according to the Fonoteca Nacional, the National Sound Archive, whose latest exposition features “aural landscapes” of the capital’s neighborhoods. The exhibit coincides with a new effort to enforce a law limiting noise in the city –– the government’s latest attempt to make the historic center more livable and increasingly attractive to higher dollar shoppers.

Hopefully sounds are not being relegated to museums solely as a measure of preservation and containment of sounds. The curator and fieldrecorder of the exhibition Daniel Goldarecena  describes the sounds of Mexico as “patrimony [that] is completely ours.”

The Fonoteca was founded in 2008 and is housed in a former home of Octavio Paz in Coyoacán. Its stated mission is to “safeguard the sonic heritage of Mexico, through the implementation of preservation methods and promote public access to protected heritage …  related to sound, in order to encourage a culture of listening.” Perhaps the Fonoteca is an answer to the “father” of the word “soundscape” R. Murray Schafer who asked in 1977, “Where are the museums for disappearing sounds? Even the most ordinary sounds will be affectionately remembered after they disappear. Their very ordinariness turns them into exceptional sound souvenirs.”

For those not in Mexico City, the Fonoteca’s website offers enticing content like a mapa sonoro (sound map) of Mexico. And there’s even a category for cerebro digital sonoro “sonic digital brain”!

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