An example of what I mean is contained in the image and sound file included in this blog posting.
What could be more mundane and unremarkable than a street crossing?
Well, as a matter of fact this piece of utilitarian street furniture helps make a place distinct. Shape, colour, design and technology vary from country to country. So too does the "language", i.e. the symbols and sounds. They function like dialects: strange enough to be noteworthy, but familiar enough for us to make sense of them - even if we are visitors from distant lands that possess alternative species of street crossings.
So the clicks and beeps, flashing lights and illuminated signs all play their role in making somewhere familiar or strange.
We could illustrate this by documenting pedestrian crossings in various countries and using the resulting collection of images and sounds as the basis for a compilation of city effects.
Remember too that this would be a snapshot in time. There was an era when the towns and cities of Sweden did not resonate to the clickings of its pedestrian crossings. When did they arrive? Who decided that they should click and not beep? And who determined on the duration of the beat?
These metronomes will surely disappear one day. They'll be replaced with something new or nothing at all. Will Swedes mourn their loss? Or will they listen to the silence, scratch their heads and ask: something's different, something's missing... but I can't quite put my finger on what's changed...