Last week we shared our completed sound walks with the class – listen to it here, made with Elvin Ou.

The map

It was very interesting listening to what my classmates produced and the variety of techniques –

  • very minimal instruction and almost rhythmic/musical sounds
  • bossy instructions [borrowing from Marina's description] to explore a new space
  • first-person, in the head of someone, pictures and timestamps as a map
  • detailed instructions, forcing one to be obnoxious on an elevator and dealing with the discomfort

I found myself wondering if we developed our idea through a very narrow/traditional lens based on narrative/story. I think it was heavily inspired by Her Long Black Hair, as that's the walk we both went on, and our only point of reference.

Some unorganized thoughts, based on our observations and class feedback --

  • could have explored a lot more with binaural sound (what if there were different people speaking, how could we use that as a tool? could we direct a person just with the direction of the sound? could we transport a person to a different place with sound?)
  • could have worked on the pacing better, people were not walking+pausing at the pace we intended for them
  • the map might not have been necessary, it seemed to confuse people
  • needed some more silence at the end of the recording so it doesn't feel so abrupt
  • binaural made people look around more – could have worked with this more, more exploration
  • creepy feels came across
  • managed to convey it was a ghost speaking early on - with the script
  • Elvin found the history of the floor and how its changed over the years – with more time, it could have been nice to weave this in better. I was imagining a paper map that is somehow changing - don't know if we have the technology for this yet. o_O
  • listening to the walks, there was an obvious group effect – the experience would have been very different alone

In terms of process, time was an obvious constraint. When working on something visual, its easy to make rough sketches while brainstorming to help communicate an idea – much harder to do this with sound. It would have helped to have gone on more sound walks to have a bigger collection of reference points. We did take our time to settle on an idea that resonated with all of us (initially 3 of us) – mostly trying to find something that worked within our lack of control of the experience. We were quick to settle on the general tone though – using sound to create something disconcerting / creepy / unsettling – which served as an anchor for collective brainstorming sessions. The initial indecision took some time away from the recording and editing phases – it would have been good to flesh it out more, work on a more detailed level, included smaller sounds and intricacies. It was good working on it all in all, and for just 2 weeks, I think it turned out good, for a first sound walk. It's an interesting medium that I hadn't given much thought to before this – I'm glad we were thrown into it.