Artwork: Dismemberment, Site I. © Anish Kapoor / VISDA. Photo: Jos Wheeler

Street Levels The false promise of a silent city.

Street Levels The false promise of a silent city.

  • Words Annabel Bai Jackson
  • Artwork Anish Kapoor

Click on Japan’s Dorozoku website, and a map pockmarked with clusters of orange and yellow circles will appear—each one representing a noisy resident. Invented by a work-from-home software developer in 2016, the digital map allows users to pinpoint spots of sonic disturbance, from squawking children to chatty couples. It serves as a warning to noise-phobes: Enter these zones at your peril.1

The map is controversial in Japan, where its exposure of people’s daily hubbub is seen as an anonymous shaming ritual. But the Dorozoku platform reveals a silent frustration for unwanted sounds, a discontent that expands out to the cacophony of modernity itself—the whirring cranes that erect the skyline at 5 a.m., the grating thrum of cars whipping down the highway.

In any collective environm...

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