Panel 11: Audio Experimention

Panel 11: Audio Experimention

Dylan Spicer, Peter Hebden and Kate Sweeney, Maya Chowdhry and Sarah Hymas 

In Building Realism and Place Using Audio in Waters of The Gap, Dylan Spicer explores how audio was used in their online project Waters Of the Gap to amplify a sense of realism and place. Spicer also examines how the restrictions of the 2020 lockdown affected the production of sound recording and design, but ultimately enhanced the final piece. 

The project consists of interviews with people claiming to have seen the goddess of the Roman Baths in modern times, and articles on local history and folklore. Each section focuses on a real location in Bath, and mixes writing, photos, an interactive map, and sound files to tell the story. 

Spicer looks at how the audio plays a unique and integral part in escalating the sense that these are the experiences of genuine residents of the city, and how hearing a real person’s voice makes everything more believable. This is alongside the ease of integrating audio alongside other medias, allowing the story to build to a conclusion not possible even ten years ago. Spicer discusses the challenges of creating audio when you cannot physically meet, and how using a mash of recordings created on different pieces of technology made something closer to reality than studio time. This is alongside ensuring all of the recordings had differing sound designs to fit the personalities of the characters. This played with a modern audience’s experience of sound quality, from low budget podcasts to professional recordings, again building a sense of truth. 

Waters Of The Gap demonstrates how audio can form a part of any narrative, and how the audience is comfortable to switch between formats when required to do so. You can mix sound recordings with other medias to build a storyworld, expand a sense of realism, and explore new and original avenues of entertainment and art.

In INSTRUCTION, Peter Hebden and Kate Sweeney explore the process of production of a creative work. An origami bird still sits on a table, long after its maker has gone home. A remnant of a conversation that now resides in memory, this oscine fold is the starting point for our reflexive presentation. INSTRUCTION is an exploration of a process and a process of production. It centres around a typeface, ‘Janet’, created by visual artist Kate Sweeney during her PhD research project, working in the administrative margins of The Bloodaxe Books Archives at Newcastle University Special Collections. ‘Janet’ is full of holes; an alphabet punctuated by voids and redactions. It is the starting point for new collaborative works manifesting as poetry, video pieces and, most recently, as JavaScript code works made with digital artist and poet, Peter Hebden. ‘Instructions for a Butterfly’ and ‘Little Light’, are autogenic, shifting, ‘live’ combinations of text, audio and animation. Sound recordings derived from the absences encoded into ‘Janet’ are sequenced by code-driven transformations of the poem text. 

The resulting works investigate the interplay between digital and physical space, drawing on N K Hayles’ notion of the ‘technotext’, by producing work that ‘interrogates the inscription technology that produces it’ to generate ‘reflexive loops between its imaginative world and the material apparatus embodying that creation as a physical presence’. The work is situated within the current discourse around digital ‘Liveness’ and technologies’ evolution to respond to us in real time. Peter Hebden and Kate Sweeney demonstrate their engagement exploring the traversal of modalities and media boundaries involved in interdisciplinary collaboration. Their process of collaboration and its outcomes demonstrate the variable, as opposed to static, nature of the interplay between physical and digital space. 

This presentation seeks to proffer a methodology as a way to utilise and build upon this organic site of shifting narratives to present stories and perspectives in multitudinous and constantly changing ways. The result is an ever-unfolding, and re-folding, body of work, whose individual projects overlap and connect rhizomically through Deleuzean ‘lines of flight’, formed out of paper birds, butterflies and accumulations of marks on paper. ‘INSTRUCTION’ will be a form of praxis: Hebden and Sweeney will reflect upon their recent works in order to open up a discussion regarding the next steps for their collaboration, thus reflexively demonstrating their collaborative methodology. 

In Walk with us: how far a phenomenological experience can be amplified by the intervention of augmented reality, Maya Chowdhry and Sarah Hymas detail the work-in-progress of an augmented reality (AR) audio work located on two sections of England’s south west coastal path. Working with the National Oceanography Centre (NOC), Walk with Us incorporates data from local monitoring sites on waves, weather and tides into a fictional narrative to illuminate coastal erosion and oceanic flux. The exact route and AR sequences of the walk are guided by the walking audience’s individual responses to risk, resilience and adaptation. Each walker will experience various visions of how climate change might impact the shoreline and shallow waters, drawing down an intellectual understanding of climate change into an embodied encounter. Underpinning the walk is a belief that imagination is phenomenologically resonant to understanding and resilience, as the NOC monitoring is intended to develop resilience as a mode of coastal defence.

The multimedia presentation showcases the collaborative methodology used between writer, digital artist and app developer to research, devise and create the walk-in-progress. The project writer and digital artist will introduce their findings so far: recounting the brief, their research processes, technical aspirations and site specific demands. Their aim is twofold: to consider and present how far a phenomenological experience can be amplified by the intervention of augmented reality; and how their collaborative practices offer challenging and rewarding processes through which they are able to consider a future informed by our present actions.

Making this project is as much an act of resilience as the coastal resilience it explores. The walk is a vision of co-worlding between artist, writer, walker, weather, shore, sea and other incidental encounters. It, and this presentation, is a line of enquiry that hopes to unfold a greater sense of active interconnection with our futures.