The Sound of The Underground

By you with your Oyster Card @ an underground train station


Recently I stumbled across the Arphield Recordings Project.

The strange made-up name is a combination of Arphid and field recording.  What they like to do is tape record the sounds of Arphid technology.  Arphid (or RFID) is Radio Frequency Identification – the tracking technology which comes into play when you swipe in and out of office blocks, or monitor racing pigeons… stuff like that.

In a bizarre twist on the ‘flash mob’ phenomenon the project organises semi-choreographed sound jams using the sound of touching in and touching out at Underground stops with your Oyster card.

Although the project seems to have lost steam recently you can download mp3s of prerecorded bleeps from their website and organisers encourage you to mix them up by performing live along with them with your own Oyster Card in a twisted public transport karaoke style.

According to the artist behind the Aphield Recording Project, Paula Roush, the sound produced by your Oyster Card is not meerely an innocent ‘bleep’ but the chilling sound of surveillance and compliance.

Although there doesn’t seem to be any further plans for any organised performances, Roush is compiling a collection of Aphield Recordings and is encouraging people to send in recordings of their own Oyster Card compositions.


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