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Creating a Sound Guide for 370 Jay Street

My partner, Sylvan Zheng, and I went through many concepts of where to conduct our sound guide. Initially, we had decided to conduct our sound walk in the elevators for 370 Jay Street. In preparation for this project, we recorded sounds from each floor’s lobby and sounds of each elevator with a zoom and shotgun mic. We ended up using none of this material.

Spontaneously, we decided to take the freight elevator to the bottom floors of our building. It was during this excursion that we stumbled upon our Sound Guide location – floor CM.

Sylvan and I, using the same recording materials, recorded sounds from floor CM: air conditioning, heavy machinery, and other ambient industrial noises. We mixed the audio component of sound guide in Ableton, mixing our recorded noises with droning music, and beginning the track with an ominous introduction.

You may access our audio guide here.

Our audio guide was very hands-off in directing our listeners through the space we selected. Thus, we created a supplementary packet with a map and newspaper clippings about the history of some of the elements on the floor. We went through different iterations of our map based on feedback from our peers who attempted our sound walk.

Below is a gallery of the accompanying packet pages.

On the cover of our packet, we included Ode on a Grecian Urn by John Keates – Keates’ poem touches on the fall of empires and the beauty of their rebirth, a perfect metaphor for the reconstruction of 370 Jay Street.

ICM – Week 1 Assignment

Part 1

I see a practical application to creative computation in my work in Child Psychology research. Too often we fail to collect data from children because our studies’ “games” are excruciatingly boring, straining the attention spans of our subjects. I believe this issue extends to science education for children as well. I would like to build a more engaging synthetic face animation that could speak research prompts to children, to improve the efficacy of our data collection. I would also like to see more tactile early learning educational tools to teach scientific concepts – much like the Nervous System project listed in the ICM wiki page.

Part 2

I enjoyed the face making task, though at times I found the web editor tedious to work with. I struggled to interpret the directions for how to generate arcs – I mitigated this issue by googling other, more clear tutorials. I would say benefitted overall from drawing the components of my face out before programming it. However, I was not prepared for how much time generating and coloring each element of my face would take. Because creating each component of my face took so long, and even though I set the j5 visual preferences to night mode, I found the display made my eyes tired over time.

Steps of Face Documentation:

I sketched my face, marking which order I might make certain elements.

sketched self portrait with simple shapes and notes

I created each element of my face without color.

Code and digital preliminary self portrait based on aforementioned sketch

I figured out which colors I wanted to use by using a droplet tool to identify color hex codes that best reflect my “bodily palette”. Unfortunately this progress was deleted.

Aforementioned digital self portrait and code, colorized

Sound Guide Response

After experiencing the Whale Creek sound guide, I have left with a new frustration with the multi media mode. Much of the information conveyed by the narrator in this podcast was communicated on plaques throughout the space. What information was not conveyed on these plaques, in my opinion, would have been better left unsaid. Intermittent rhetorical questions, campily voice-acted fictionalizations, and nonsensical linguistic musings undermine the only facet of the audio experience I appreciated: the narrator’s voice. The inclusion of an accompanying packet was cumbersome, and I mostly used it to take my own notes. My final complaint was the artists’ music choice, largely ambient music employed nonsensically, provided no value added to the experience. If anything, their brief inclusion of an Alicia Keys track could have set them up for prosecution over licensing rights violations.

Perhaps I left the Whale Creek experience underwhelmed because, according to the audio guide (but not the pamphlet) I had arrived at the inopportune time – morning instead of evening. Furthermore, I appreciate how this sound guide made me aware of the temporal limitations of the medium if it is not continuously, as I was not able to walk the entirety of the space in coordination with the guide due to construction. Lastly, I will concede my appreciation of the artist’s choice to separate their audio narrative into multiple episodes, to allow time for self reflection.