Grinnell College Sound Walk

Artist Statement

Admiring the work of the Alter Bahnhof Video Walk in Germany, I sought to create a similar experience on Grinnell’s campus. The evolution of this project through various stages has brought me to a simple but important piece. The videos I recorded focus upward throughout a roughly 15 minute walk, providing enough visual cues to allow the participant to effectively follow the geographical progression of the video. I chose this style of recording to minimize the distractions provided by the visual aspect in order to encourage the participants to expend more focus on the auditory component. Secondarily, it requires that the participant examine the entire space in a manner to which they are likely unaccustomed, laying the groundwork for discoveries by multiple senses and, potentially as a result, the optimism of looking up occasionally.

The auditory component is comprised of both the sound from the original, recorded walk and the sound which is generated live along the participant’s individual walk. The video component of the sound has not been added to or significantly altered, other than attempts to clear up unnecessary recording static. The live component of the sound adds interest to the piece because it creates a unique experience each time which encourages the participant to focus their attention to the broader world as it relates to the video. Some of the sounds are innate to the activity, such as opening a door, while others will occur only live or only on the video, such as a passing car or conversation snippets. I hope that participants will engage with the junction of these experiences, allowing both the louder and quieter moments of their walk to connect them to their surroundings, both in time and space.

 

Process

Though partially described above, I want to briefly cover the process of creating this piece. Initially, I experimented with a few different video lengths, walking paths, styles of filming, and filming equipment. The best audio came from a portable video camera with the most effective visual occurring, not surprisingly, during daytime filming. When I filmed straight in front of me, I found the visual of people walking by, seeing the time on many clocks around campus, and other cues which identify the source of sound too distracting from the sound.

After many technological difficulties encountered with Reaper and the plug-in ReaFIR, I minimally manipulated the sound, needing to strip the video of audio then return it upon the completion of editing.

I filmed a couple video walks, only one so far successfully uploaded to youtube. In a more complete installation, I would have more than one QR code around campus, at the various starting locations, so that one could pick up wherever they like.

TO PARTICIPATE IN SOUND WALK:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1pRY_G-RXLjmGgfZ8FWDv-LZrILa9McRquh89y3HXYKc/edit

OR

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Exploring Micro(sound)waves

Artist Statement

Being one of the members of the group that explored Musique Concrete/Sound as Object, I sought to remove the sound produced by a commonly heard object from the objects usual context, partially removing the sound from the object itself. Believing that the piece would be more effective if the listeners were aware of what was happening, I intentionally failed to mask every sound to the point where they were no longer recognizable as having a connection to microwaves. Mixing together sounds that are very distinctive with those that are unfamiliar to microwave users allows the listeners to attend more to the unusual sounds.

To additionally facilitate the process of altering the sounds of using a microwave but keeping it true to the general experience, I allowed for many rhythmic moments to simulate the repetitive, constant nature of sounds which originate from a microwave.

 

Process

I went about this proto-project first by recording sounds from a microwave, starting out with very easily recognizable sounds such as the buttons, the door, and the cooking process. I then switched to recording more obscure sounds such as the sound of me scratching, tapping, sliding, dropping, unplugging, and otherwise interacting with the microwave.

Moving on to the audio file manipulation process, I wanted to obscure the sounds even more, so I recorded them many times in succession through different devices. This also gave me more variety in the sounds and sound quality that I was working with. I pieced together the final product in Garage Band, ending it with one sound that I did not personally collect, but rather found on freesound.org.

 

Further work

If I were to continue working on this concept, I would like to add a couple more dimensions. On the very basic level, I would like to use different models of microwaves for some diversity in sound and to help create confusion for the listener. Furthermore, though I like that all the sounds I collected were created using solely the microwave, I would like to explore putting things in the microwave. This would produce an even wider selection of sounds with which I could compose a sound as object piece. Additionally, I would like to manufacture a method by which I could put a microphone in a running microwave. The result might be a fried microphone, hopefully with a usable sound file on it, or it could add a hollow effect to the sound…I might also just end up destroying a microphone, so I would have to be careful.

Emotionally Interpretting “The Lion King”

Originally having sought out to explore Foley art and it’s (intentionally unnoticeable) effects on an audience’s perceptions, I evolved my vision to include sound effects in a more broadly defined way. I specifically chose an animated move because it relies so heavily on added sound effects to create the final product. I settled on the “Circle of Life” scene which opens “The Lion King” because it has a lot of actions which can be correlated to sounds and because it has very few visual suggestions of emotion – that is, the emotional response to the scene is nearly entirely dependent upon the associated sound.

Using a mixture of Foley art and sound downloaded from both FreeSound and YouTube, I pieced together sound effects and mood music according to what was visually occurring in a copy of the opening scene of “The Lion King” from which I had stripped the audio. I combined this audio track (created in Garage Band) with the visual in iMovie. The final product can be accessed with the YouTube link below.

 

Hip Hop

Artist Statement

Living with a rabbit who is allowed to roam freely about my living space, I am very aware of his activities and his movement about my room. My interest in more fully exploring his movements rose out of my awareness of our different sleeping schedules. We need to live in the same space, but it is likely that he has a different natural activity level than me at any given time.

I decided to translate Benny the bunny’s location and activity level within my room late at night when I was studying and settling down for the night. With time compressed so that a half hour can be listened to within 30 seconds, Benny’s location relative to the video camera is represented by the panning of sound form one speaker to the other while his activity level during any stretch of time is heard through the speed of the track. I performed these audio manipulations to the original “Looney Tunes”theme song.

Creation Process

I collected the data for Benny’s movements by watching the video and recording the video time stamp along with the corresponding time and Benny’s location, activity, and interaction with me.

I manipulated the audio in the program Audacity, beginning by importing the “Looney tunes” theme song and compressing the frequency levels so that the audio reached a fairly constant volume. This allowed for the frequency levels I added to the track due to Benny’s behavior to be more clearly noticed.