Bongwonsa (봉원사), Seoul

Bongwonsa (봉원사), Seoul

This post is all about the contrast of audio, how it can disorient and render tranquil all within a few blocks, city streets, or square miles. I come to you again from Seoul, again from areas and activities within a bus or subway stop or two from my home. All of this audio, when I listen to it here online surprises me, jars me a bit. I don’t hear what my mind’s eye seems to remember of the event. I hear disorientation, even violence, an assault of audio. Then I hear the random tumbling of bells at the Buddhist temple and I am relieved. 

What is interesting is that these three events I recorded are all activities that I would consider profound and encompassing of life here in Seoul. They are as close as I get to being in harmony with my surroundings. Nothing sounds out of place with what I see, nothing seems out of place with what I hear. They are my special places, little pieces of sanctuary, and, at times, I am completely alone when I experience them. Not an easy feat in a city of 15 million. When I listen to them now, without imagery, they are not sanctuary, but rather violent. Not tranquil, but disorienting. The power of audio outside of sensory context. 

Teachers, have your students create soundmaps of where they live, their neighborhoods, their routines and rituals. Place them on a map, relisten and reflect on the power of sensory combinations to produce knowledge, to know a place. Rich material for learning. 

So, the events are as common as can be (at least in Asia):

  • A bus ride from Mapo to Yeouido across the Han River, Seoul
  • A stream on my daily walk around Yeouido, Seoul
  • The sounds of Bongwonsa Temple, Seoul


Bongwonsa (봉원사), Seoul



By Michael Gallagher

My name is Michael Sean Gallagher. I am a Lecturer in Digital Education at the Centre for Research in Digital Education at the University of Edinburgh. I am Co-Founder and Director of Panoply Digital, a consultancy dedicated to ICT and mobile for development (M4D); we have worked with USAID, GSMA, UN Habitat, Cambridge University and more on education and development projects. I was a researcher on the Near Futures Teaching project, a project that explores how teaching at The University of Edinburgh unfold over the coming decades, as technology, social trends, patterns of mobility, new methods and new media continue to shift what it means to be at university. Previously, I was the Research Associate on the NERC, ESRC, and AHRC Global Challenges Research Fund sponsored GCRF Research for Emergency Aftershock Forecasting (REAR) project. I was an Assistant Professor at Hankuk University of Foreign Studies (한국외국어대학교) in Seoul, Korea. I have also completed a doctorate at University College London (formerly the independent Institute of Education, University of London) on mobile learning in the humanities in Korea.

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