Key Issues

January 20, 2009 at 10:15 am (Presentations, Crits & Tutorials)

Zai Tang

MADA 3: Key Issues

My project draws from an area of research called Acoustic Ecology, which investigates how the soundscape affects the way we perceive and behave within certain environments. London is the environmental setting I have chosen to study, initially by embarking on journeys through the City’s urban spaces and making field recordings. These sound recordings will form the basis of a series of audio-visual compositions, which reflect the experience of City from both a realistic and observational angle, as well as an elaborated and personalized points of view.

Issue 1 – the visual element

One of the main things I want the audience to take away from the final work is a new awareness of London’s soundscape and how it relates to our perception of the City’s urban spaces. Whilst I am getting closer to a clear and focused approach towards composing the audio aspect of the work, the visual element needs much development and it is this that I’d like feedback on.

Idea 1

An idea I have had in regards to the visual aspect is to return to the locations I made my field recordings in and take photographs late at night / early morning, when there is little / less activity going on. I will then work on subtle animated distortions of these photos digitally, based on my audio composition of that particular location. So, in this instance I will end up with a series of sound and moving image pieces of the spaces I have travelled through. Using MaxMSP/Jitter, I will try and link these separate compositions in to one fluid whole and present them within one installation space.


Idea 2

In contrast to this, another idea for my visuals is to create a series of still works, which are effectively ‘visual scores’. These will describe each sound composition, using a variety of mediums (photographs of spaces, drawings, etc), and will focus more on describing the sonic behavior of individual sounds and their relationships with other sounds from the same location. I could then present these as separate pieces, which could be installed at different places within the Wilson Road building.



Idea 3

Alternatively, instead of focusing on single areas or locations for a sound composition, I’ve been experimenting with the idea of condensing the material collected during one single journey into a single piece. These could be presented using either of the methods describe for the previous ideas.

Here is a draft composition of my London Bridge (South) journey:


I feel I need to establish location visually as well as aurally, so next time the audience passes through a certain place their ears will (hopefully) pick up. It is of great importance for me to take a minimal approach to the visuals, since sound is the main carrier of meaning within my work. So with that in mind, what other approaches to the visual element could I explore in order to draw attention to how sound relates to our perception of urban space?

Issue 2 – the interactive element

The other key issue I am tackling relates to the possibility of incorporating an interactive element into my final piece. The interactive element may utilize motion tracking and allow the user to explore the sounds of the City through movement within in the installation space – an idea that ties in with the use of the journey within my project. Will giving the audience the possibility of affecting their experience of the work help cultivate within them a greater sensitivity towards the sound, and thus the soundscape? Should the interactive element be hidden or ‘on display’?


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