An Echoic Chamber

My final project was an extension of my earlier experiments with creating augmented audio spaces. Originally, I had hoped to create an space with odd echoic properties, where certain frequncies were echoed but others were not. I decided this wouldn’t be compelling (or wouldn’t work, which in truth was my biggest concern). I decided to keep the idea of interesting echoic properties though, and, inspired by a recent viewing of the hunger games, decided to mimic the “Mockingjays” in the first movie which, genetically modified to be good at picking up tunes, would mimic a tune and spread it through the forest.

Conceptually, this is more of an interactive experience than an static piece. It inherently involves participation. Having this interactive element is something I had wanted from the beginning of the semester, when Spencer and I had our failed attempt to cancel out someone’s voice. In a round about way, my final project ended up amplifying a person’s voice. I thought it was a pleasant change.

I used Puredata to play sounds of the forest, and measure the pitch of a note and its loudness. If something was heard which was high pitched and loud, it was assumed to be a whistle, which would trigger a recording. This sound was then played back through a variety of filters which would play it at different speeds and pitches to mimic a forest of birds copying the sound.

WordPress won’t let me post my PD file, so here’s a picture of it.
Screenshot from 2014-12-19 15:23:01


One thought on “An Echoic Chamber

  1. Hi Adam,

    It is great that you got this working–nice job!

    I would have liked to have seen a bit more effort and thought put into the presentation–choice of location, opportunities for classmates to interact with the installation, perhaps even working on a multichannel, site-specific installation… All of which is to say that it felt a bit like a proof of concept, rather than a final project. For the final project, the ideal documentation would be a video of people experiencing and interacting with the work. (Such as the video linked to at the top of the rubric):

    My only other comment is that I never really got a good sense from you as to why this project is interesting, conceptually. I actually find the Hunger Games reference somewhat distracting. Though it might not be ideal for the animals (you would need to check with wildlife experts), perhaps this would work best someplace where it responds to and replicates actual birdcalls?

    A couple of things that might be of interest:

    (It would be awesome if there was a way to get your hands on some of these antique mechanical birds.)

    Long story short: this is an interesting first step…and there is so much more you could do with this.


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