During April 2008 Doorstep Collective took to the streets of central Manchester and stopped people (often easily identified by their tell-tale white headphones) listening to portable MP3 players. We asked these people the name and the artist of the track they were listening to and archived the information according to where and when people were stopped.
Reactions were mixed. Some people refused any eye contact, perhaps suspecting us of collecting for charity or suggesting they apply for a 'free' make-over, and others looked pleasantly surprised to be asked to submit something of their lives for archive.
But that was not the end for the archive. On bank holiday Monday 4th May, as part of Futuresonic, Doorstep and a small crowd of supporters took to the streets of Manchester to play the archived tracks aloud. Kitted out with a speaker-amp (kindly donated for the day from Dawson's), i-pod, the archive and maps of the city, Doorstep created the iWalk.
Participants were divided into navigators, who chose the route through the city, and soundtrack selectors, who decided what should be listened to from the archive in response to where the navigators led us.
By creating a shared soundtrack and playing it out loud to people in the city, we mixed up personal soundtracks that few people had chosen for their lives and gave them to the masses.
By hearing Manchester in a new way, we saw Manchester in a new way.