Class 3 Video and Sound: Soundwalk Reflections

I really enjoyed making our soundwalk! For now, I am calling it “Journey to Home”. I never thought I would be interested in creating sound projects. But this gave me a window into how satisfying it can be to describe a world through sound.

I was most surprised to feel my musical ear coming into play while editing urban sounds of cities, of all things. I spent many years studying flute and piano performance. It was refreshing to have these skills come into use in a new way.

I also had fun collaborating with my group members Alice Sun and Amena Hayat!

Here is a description of our soundwalk:

Listeners meander the staircase and ride the elevator inside Tisch to travel from our different hometowns, to our current home in New York City. To create the soundwalk, we each curated sounds from Korea, Lahore, Pakistan and the Bay Area, California, as well as captured the sounds of New York City and the subway. Lastly, we created designed a map to clearly display the walk inside Tisch.

Our soundwalk:

 

Our map:

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What went well:

  • Our collaboration – We each took on significant roles and took a stand for our individual ideas.
  • Our idea – This came together nicely. I had an original idea of mapping our commutes from our New York City apartments onto  a walk inside the building, because I was interested in the concept of traveling while staying in one place, as well as getting richer sounds than those I thought we could find inside the building . Alice felt this concept would be more meaningful if we mapped our journeys from our hometowns instead, allowing us to tell a more personal story with even more compelling sounds. Amena was very clear about needing a vibrant inner monologue narrated by a central character, which ultimately became the three of us. Amena was also the one that rightfully insisted that our piece required a very clear voice other than us to direct the listener through the building.
  • The quality of sound in our soundwalk – While there’s definitely room for improvement, I’m proud of how creatively we thought of collecting sounds from outside the building and from the amazing website freesound.org. All of this led to a more compelling piece than we could have otherwise created.

What was challenging/What I would do next time:

  • Not enough time to do one last review for finer level edits – I would have loved to have one final listening session to tighten up a few moments to better support the transitional moments.
  • Musical ear – Now that I know I enjoy listening for phrasing of individual sounds or building arcs out of patches of sound, I’d use this even more next time.
  • Re-mapping where the listener is in the building – My initial instinct to use the staircase was a strong foundational direction to take for this project.  However, using the elevator in Tisch at 4pm is tough… lots of traffic. I agree with the class feedback that we can rethink the listener’s route through the building.

 

The process

Brainstorming and Planning – We invested a lot of time in planning and scoping the project. Here is our “script” or timeline of how tracks, narration, sounds, and walking line up together.

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The Editing – Here you can see our tracks in Audition. The three longer tracks are Alice’s soundscape of Korea, Amena’s of Lahore, Pakistan, and mine of the Bay Area in California. The shorter tracks, especially at the bottom, are the narrated directions by a computer generated voice we found online. I believe Alice modified that voice to be slowed down a bit.soundwalk audio tracks 1

All in all, I learned a lot from this assignment!

 

 

 

Class 3 Video and Sound: Promotional Ad for the Spookify Mirror (or TBD Name)

Maria Shin, Kellee Massey and myself will be making a promotional ad for the Spookify Mirror.

Here is our synopsis, written by Kellee, and created by all three of us:

In a world, where everyday is Halloween, one girl tries to find the perfect costume for the Most Important Halloween of All.  Two days before the important day, our character still can’t seem to settle on a suitable costume.  Surrounded by classmates who confidently already have their costumes set, she rushes home to look through her costumes once more. At her wit’s end, she uses her Spookify Mirror to plan her costume, making her the spookiest (and best dressed) at any celebration.

We will be using After Effects colored construction paper to create a basic interactive mirror within this video.

Here is our storyboard, drawn by all three of us!

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Storyboard 3

 

Class 1 – Readings

Here are a few thoughts below about Jonathan Lethem’s article and  Kirby Ferguson’s video. Overall, I agree with them that artists are best off borrowing and lending their creations within the public commons, rather than overpolicing themselves through capital markets and intellectual property laws.

  • Influences are good – It was great timing as I start ITP to read Jonathan Lethem’s advice that it is actually quite healthy for society when I embed another creator’s ideas in my own work, in that it extends those ideas back into our culture as worthy of more discussion.  Similarly, Kirby Ferguson’s insisted that remixing others’ work is a norm and not an abberation. Nice advice to “relax your shoulders” so you can begin making work right away.
  • What I found missing – I wanted more discussion in Lethem’s article about ways artists might credit other artists, so that connections are seen and acknowledged by others. He leads by example with footnotes at the end, but I wish he had made more room for his opinions on this. And by the time I listened to Kirby Ferguson’s talk, I started to pine for the conflicting advice I often hear, which is to pursue what really interests me and to not look to what other people consider important. This is perhaps the tension between “influence” and “derivation”.
  • Collage – I’m already interested in paper-based collages like these that I created. Therefore, Lethem’s discussion of collage as the main thread between art movements of the 20th and 21st centuries was especially interesting to me! I will keep his thoughts in mind while exploring collage as a medium while at ITP.

Video & Sound – Thoughts on a Soundwalk

Assignment: My classmates and I visited Central Park to go a soundwalk created by artist Janet Cardiff, titled “Her Long Black Hair”. The piece was funded by the Public Art Fund. 

To my surprise, I found myself very emotional in Central Park today. Call me jaded, but after living in New York City for fourteen years and working near Central Park South for eight years, I expected to have a walk through the park like all the others I’ve had over the years. Beautiful but overused. Natural but artificial. The lung of the city but congested with lots of people on a Saturday.

However, Central Park and I were lifted up into another realm through sound.  Thanks to Janet Cardiff and her soundwalk “Her Long Black Hair”, I saw the park in a new way as the past was replayed over the present, many times into the future.

First of all, Cardiff is a fortune teller. There really WAS a man reading the newspaper when she said “Turn to the right. There’s a man on the bench reading the paper.” (!!) Read on for my impressions on the rest of the piece.

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As promised, a man reading the newspaper on a bench.

Concepts

Here are three things that resonated most with me during Cardiff’s sound walk.

  • Common vs. singular: Several times, Cardiff transformed people’s common rituals in the park into singular and spontaneous performances. For example, I was certain Cardiff put the man reading the paper there just for me. But the piece was created in 2005. There must be countless men reading newspapers on that bench each month.  Cardiff must have done her research to know this. She certainly relies on them to be these unwitting New Yorkers if she features them so early on in her soundscape piece!
  • Overlapping layers of time: Cardiff says in Track 2: “Go towards the tunnel. Now we’re walking across where she stood. One time across another.”  Instead of time being a linear experience that can never be repeated, Cardiff’s soundscape makes the argument that past and present can coexist on top of one another, through replayed sound and memory.
  • The present moment frozen in time:  Cardiff wove together ancient and contemporary stories to explore how moments can be lost but still seared into one’s memory or in a photograph.  I found it incredibly rich and moving for Cardiff to fold a contemporary NYC story about a woman photographed by a man in Central Park into the themes of an ancient Greek story of Orpheus looking back at Eurydice in Hades.  Humans and memory don’t change much, but technology does! Would Orpheus have wanted a camera to photograph Eurydice?

Techniques

As we prepare to make our own soundscape in class, here are a few  more thoughts Cardiff’s piece and the techniques we’ll be using.

  • Narrative arc:  Whether or not Cardiff drew a chart of her narrative arc, I’m sure it would be packed and detailed! I’m curious how much she planned in advance or built as she went.
  • Character:  I would describe Cardiff’s piece as a stranger who acts so familiar with you, that you unwittingly get wrapped up in her story. Other adjectives would be mysterious, a little urgent, contemplative, and revealing.
  • Context/Symbols/Space: There are many of these in the soundscape. For example, Central Park is a major context for the piece, signifying a more contemplative mindset than while walking down 5th Avenue. The soundscape’s map is a very familiar wayfinding tool that symbolizes where to walk. Lastly, the space around me was manipulated through the directionality of the sounds in the piece (for example, people speaking behind me, a golf truck roaring past me), leading to several very unnerving experiences!

With only two weeks to create our own soundwalk, we’ll have to see what we come up!