We won!

Prix Europa

Hackney Hear has won the Prix Europa Radio Production of the Year Awards.


Prix Europa

With entries 600 entries from 38 countries, Hackney Hear was selected in the innovation category as being a first in audio and technology.


Hackney Hear founder, Fran Panetta, travelled to Berlin this week to present the project to a panel of judges. Well done all!


Check out the Prix Europa website for details… More photos and information to follow.


Hackney Hear nominated for the Prix Europa Awards

Prix Europa Awards logo

Hackney Hear has been nominated for the Prix Europa Radio Production of the Year Awards.


Prix Europa Awards logo

Marked out in the innovation category, Hackney Hear was selected from over 600 submissions from 38 countries, as being a first in audio and technology, triggering sounds via an individual’s GPS location.


We’re extremely excited to have been selected for such a prestigious award. Hackney Hear founder, Fran Panetta, will have to travel to Berlin later this year to present the nominated project to a panel of judges, after which we’ll find out if we’ve actually won!



Lots going on…

Recently there have been lots of exciting things going on at Hackney Hear…


We had an event, in partnership with the CINE East Festival, where we asked people to share their experience of Hackney Hear with others. Hackney Hear Plus1 was our first ever event and helped those who came along to enjoy Hackney Hear with both friends as well as complete strangers, quite an experience! Look out for more events soon.



We also made a trip to Downing Street to talk about Hackney Hear, as part of our prize for winning the Race for Apps competition (see previous blog post).



Hackney Hear Plus1

We will be running our first ever event on Sunday 1 July between 2pm and 5pm, as part of the CINE East Festival.


Entitled Hackney Hear Plus1, this “mob” event will be an opportunity for visitors to use the app en masse, approaching a stranger in silence with a personalised invitation and sharing the experience of creating stories and rediscovering Hackney using sound.


It’s the first event of its kind and for those who are brave enough to approach a stranger, it should help show how perfect the Hackney Hear app is for shared listening experiences. We hope that by listening to some of the stories of Broadway Market and London Fields with other people (whom you don’t know) Hackney Hear will take on new meanings and provide users with new experiences.


If you’re interested in taking part in Hackney Hear Plus1 please email press@hackneyhear.com or just show up on the day.


Hackney Hear Plus1 

Sunday 1 July, 2pm – 5pm

Start inside the Cat and Mutton pub – we’ll be inside with headphones (though please bring your own if you can), splitters and invitations!


Hackney Hear wins Race for Apps Gold Award and announces ‘Plus1’ event

Awards pic

We are the winner of the Race for Apps Gold Award in the ‘Finding your way’ category, it was announced at the Digital Shoreditch Festival today.



Awards pic
Matt and Fran receiving the Gold award from Cllr Guy Nicholson



The Race for Apps project, a collaboration between Hackney Council, Digital Shoreditch and the Technology Strategy Board’s IC tomorrow team, celebrates ground-breaking apps which successfully transform visitors’ experience of the Hackney area in this Olympic year.


As winners of the Race for Apps competition, Hackney Hear will receive funding opportunities to advance the development of the app.


We also announced the first Hackney Hear ‘mob’ event on 1 July 2012 (2pm – 5pm) as part of the CINE East Festival. Entitled Hackney Hear Plus1, this event will be an opportunity for visitors to use the app en masse, approaching a stranger in silence with a personalised invitation and sharing the experience of creating stories and rediscovering Hackney using sound.


If you’re interested in taking part in Hackney Hear Plus1 please email press@hackneyhear.com.

Lovely messages from lovely people

We’ve had so many fantastic responses since we launched Hackney Hear in February, and I wanted to take a moment to share two of our favourites with you.


Just this week, the award-winning Canadian producer Chris Brookes sent us this:


When audio features began in the last century, listeners had to cluster around fixed radios. Then came portable radios, and listeners could tune in while walking or driving through landscape. Next, features began moving in time, from fixed-schedule broadcast delivery to user-accessed computer downloads and smartphone podcasts – but with content still isolated from the listener’s landscape. Creations like Hackney Hear may be the next evolution for feature: moving in space, accessible by the listener in a way that melds form with content. A new genre of audio feature.


Unfortunately, the art of location-based sound documentary has been ill-served by the prevalence of “cellphone tourism” type walking tours – many of which consist of simple unidimensional information delivery. I walked through Hackney Hear last May and it is unlike any cellphone walking tour I’ve experienced. It’s more like entering a feature and swimming in sound, the user moving through a layered audio experience with a geographically-influenced narrative and a multidimensional sound design that engages the listener on many levels. It’s hard to describe it; you have to experience it.


The next is from Shane Solanki, who got involved with the project at a very early stage and composed the now infamous Lido Song (which was played recently as the Olympic torch came through London Fields).



We asked him to write something in support of our efforts to raise funds – we didn’t realise he’d be this passionate:


As we move into an age where information is consumed in a variety of ways, how can we make good work, which stands the test of time? Is the age of the novel, or the album, dead? Will children need to read Pride and Prejudice when they can watch Avatar instead? What is the role of antiquity in the digital age?


Students of the future have smartphones in classrooms, and will be ‘consuming’ art via apps – so I guess I have a vested interest in Hackney Hear, in terms of the fact that it approaches app technology with a cultural remit. Unfortunately, libraries will close over the next 50 years. Hackney Hear, and products like it, represent a shift in the way that we consume information. Hackney Hear is Hackney’s library of the future.


We still get messages, of course, drifting through the Twittersphere as people discover the app. But please, get in touch and share your experiences: @hackneyhear is the place to find us.

Two moons


I’m reading Haruki Murakami’s 1Q84 at the moment. In it there are two worlds: 1984 and 1Q84. Like Philip Pulman’s famous trilogy and countless other multiverse novels, the central thesis of the book is about reality of the world we live in and why we should believe it really is what it says it is. And it has got me thinking about Hackney Hear.


One of the things I love about the app is the colliding of worlds. But unlike Murakami’s book, which paints the picture for you (be it admittedly very poetically and lyrically), Hackney Hear actually take several versions of the world we are living in a presents them to you in that very space. It could be through the worlds of different communities living there: take London Fields (the park which Hackney Hear is centered around), you might bump in to Darren the ex-gang member who points out kids around you making drug deals, or run in to Iain Sinclair who describes how cattle would trundle down the west side of the park on their way to the market to be slaughtered, or perhaps you bump in to some Hackney students practicing Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night. Even more evocative if we’re thinking of juxtaposing and interweaving our worlds is the careful sound design in our app – perhaps you’re surrounded by a sonic thunder storm while ghost ping pong players battle it out on the empty table by you, or you hear the end of the egg and spoon race as a imaginary cyclist whizzes past you.


In my mind there’s no doubt that audio can transport you. Janet Cardiff actually put it really well 15 years ago when describing her own walks “Audio affects our perception of the physical world. We understand three-dimensional space by using our vision, but also by the character of sounds we hear. If these sounds are manipulated and changed,  then our perception of reality can be drastically affected”.


Now with GPS it can be even more magical as you don’t need to be pressing buttons or making sure you’re in sync with your audio tour. People have described how Hackney Hear can change their perception of their physical environment ‘As I walked back, I saw a guy with the gold chain and Gucci trainers, which was described in the app, was there. It was always there, but now I noticed it.’ (Caroline, 43).


We’re really excited about how using technology, we’ve managed to use sound creatively to layer the real world around us as we move through it. Download it, give it a whirl and let us know if you’re now living in a Hackney multiverse.

Hackney Hear launches 8 March 2012

Hackney Hear launches March 8

Hackney Hear launches March 8

This innovative app will be available for download for the iPhone. Triggering sound via GPS-location, Hackney Hear provides an innovative way to explore and rediscover London’s east end by combining immersive sounds and storytelling.


Stories include:

– Writer Iain Sinclair unravels the layers of history in his beloved local park

– Performance poet Shane Solanki performs his ‘Lido song’ at Hackney’s outdoor swimming pool

– Photographer Tom Hunter tells tales of the 1980s Hackney squatting scene

– Local residents tell secrets behind their neighbourhood, from first kisses to gang etiquette


Stay tuned for more information.