Speakerson.net

Experimental Sonic Art in Flash

About

This blog has been set up as a space for exploration, discussion and reporting progress on my MA project, involving finding new, exciting ways of using sound on the Web.

The Sonic Map of Battersea Park

October 11th, 2007

The Sonic Map of Battersea Park is a Web based piece of audio art, created in search for new and innovative ways of using audio on the Web. It integrates the technology of Flash and a notion of soundscape navigable in a Web browser. It aims to transport an Internet user to the London park to experience its complexity, cosmopolitanism, vibrancy and sense of enjoyment, using sound clips and minimal graphics. It also challenges the user to explore new ways of navigating a web space, by using a sense of hearing instead of vision.

VIEW THE PROJECT HERE

Requirements
In order to make exploring of the piece more enjoyable, the user needs to verify the following:
1. The speakers must be turned on and the volume turned up
2. Headphones should be used for better three-dimensional experience
3. The piece is mostly navigated with arrow keys, not the mouse (see Instructions)
4. Flash plug-in version 8 or higher needs to be installed

Instructions

Use the UP and DOWN arrow to move the “Walker” forward. Use the LEFT and RIGHT arrows to turn the “Walker” around to discover the different sound sources in the park as in three-dimensional space.

Hollow dots contain multiple clips which are activated when re-visited.

Click within the screen if the arrow keys do not move the Walker.

More info

A Sonic Map of Battersea Park‘s purpose is to explore the idea of a web version of virtual soundscape  which is based on the open space of Battersea Park in South West London.

Several sonic areas have been specified (by use of x and y coordinates on the screen), which are activated when the Walker approaches them. The sounds which are attached to the hotspots fade in and out depending on the Walker’s distance. Additionally, the stereo-pan of the sound is continually adjusted depending on the direction that the Walker is facing relative to the location of the hotspot.

All the sounds used in this prototype are real sounds which I recorded in Battersea Park using professional recording equipment. I then edited the sounds, cutting them into short audio loops, before compressing them and attaching them to the relevant sound hotspots.

I decided to abandon the graphical representation of the map on the first visit, giving a user an experience of  “a walk in the park with eyes closed”.   I wanted to explore users’ response to removing most of the visual feedback. Will it aggravate the user or intrigue him or her to explore the interface further?

In the end, users can chose to “open eyes” by clicking on a button and to reveal a simple graphic representation of Battersea Park map. I used simple shapes to represent the visited areas, which appear only when the Walker is within a specified distance.

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