Phonar Task: Alientated Sensory Mashup

The Phonar tasks had begun with the journey to work/school and now we were progressing to the weekly tasks, the first of these is the Alienated Sensory Mashup Task. The brief for this can be seen below:

“Working in pairs if possible name yourselves “Eyes” and “Ears”. Ears is equipped with sound recording equipment (your phone will be more than adequate) and blindfolded. Eyes will lead Ears on a guided journey through a range of different environments. Ears will dictate the pace of the journey and say when they want to stop and make dedicated “sound-mark” recordings.

If you have to work alone then perhaps consider choosing an environment in which you can remain motionless with your eyes closed for several minutes. As you do so your sense of hearing will improve and you will begin to focus in on sounds that previously you’d of missed. Now search out these sounds with your recorder and build up a sound-scape of them.

For the photography aspect investigate the same environment as a photographer, responding solely to what you see.

At the end of the journey Eyes repeats the route (wearing ear-defenders/plugs) responding to the visual stimuli.

You should end up with a landscape story and a soundscape story.”

I paired myself with Jess Oakes and we loaned a Canon 5DII and an Edirol from the Media Loan Shop and started on our journey; Jess was the ears (blindfolded) and I was the eyes. We started our Journey at the Ellen Terry Building and worked our way up the road and into the Herbert Gallery to explore a different sound quality, we then worked our way back to our house in Stoke and then branched out further to a park. Jess would stop when she wanted to make a sound recording and I would look around my environment and take a photograph; I tried to ignore all of the sound and concentrate solely on what inspired me visually. As a result of our efforts we ended up with a soundscape put together by Jess and a set of photographs edited by me, both of which can be found below:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/beckywoodall/sets/72157648464382406/

We brought these separate pieces to the next Phonar session as it was our impression that we would be sharing the pieces and mashing them up in the session however it seemed most of the other participants in Phonar had created a collaborative piece with the sound and images together. In response to this I took the audio files and the images and created my own piece, with some exclusions as I wanted the piece to be short and effective. My narrative included the journey from the Ellen Terry to the Herbert and back to the house, it didn’t include the visit to the park as I felt the arrival at the house was a good punctuation stop in the piece.

My finished video piece can be seen below:

As a first task it was great at forcing us to consider the element of sound in relation to our photography; although I was the one responsible for the images when putting the piece together I was evident that sound and images together is highly effective. However it struck me that I could create something different with this piece building on the ideas of Phonar. I wanted the viewer to make a journey and interact with the content rather than just have it dictated to them however I still wanted to maintain some control because I wanted them to follow the journey that I made rather than create their own. In the digital media module last year I discovered an online tool that introduces interactivity in the image called ThingLink. I started thinking about how I could use ThingLink to produce an interactive image that would depict the journey I made and offer sound bites for each location.

To start with, I thought about the layout of the image and what I could do visually that would both engage the viewer and make it easy to navigate. I thought about laying the images out in a grid in one space and numbering them however some of the images were portrait and some of them landscape so they wouldn’t tesselate together effectively. I still wanted all the images to be in one space so I continued to look at the images and think how they could be used. Eventually I made a file in Photoshop that was really tall in height however the width was that of one of the landscape photographs. It featured a black background so that when I started putting images in, the blank space would be filled with black. I chose black over white as I feel white relates more to a slideshow or an official document and black is quite a powerful but soft colour that works to draw the reader in. I then placed the images into this file, placing each image under the last to make a ladder of images. This would still allow me to control the order in which the images were seen however the viewer could scroll down at their own pace and make the journey last as long as they wanted to. I had to resize the file before uploading it to ThingLink as each photograph amounted to a file that was too big to upload. Once uploaded I had an image file to work with.

Next I needed the sound, I had already worked with the sound file Jess made initially to make my video, cutting it up and marking it out to make the presentation slightly shorter. However in this instance I wanted to break the sound file down into the different sections and create different sound bites to upload to SoundCloud and link to the image uploaded to ThingLink through the tag function. These individual sound sections could be slightly longer than I edited them in the video to give the listener a bit more incite into the environment. I felt slightly that the images and sounds were rushed in the video in order to make it short as some of the responses we saw in the session were too long. In this instance however the viewer would have control to listen to as much or as little of the sound recording as they wished, they could even just choose to look at the images and not engage with the sound at all. I made the sound clips in Premiere Pro and exported them as an audio file however I needed to covert them into mp3 format before uploading them to SoundCloud as there was an issue with the size or file type in it’s original form.

With both the image and sound files uploaded to the appropriate platforms I could start creating the interactivity element in ThingLink. To add interactivity into a ThingLink image, you must add in a ‘tag’, this can link to a outside platform such as SoundCloud, YouTube or Flickr and bring in another aspect such as sound or video. It could even be a link to the development behind the image in case the viewer wanted to know more. Commercial users of ThingLink use the tags to link to the product on their own website for example Ikea presents a photograph of a bedroom space and tags the different elements such as the bed and lights, these tags link to the relevant product on their website. In this instance I used the tags to link to the content I had uploaded to Soundcloud, the process can be seen below:

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 16.23.12

You can edit the tag and paste in the url of the content that you want to link to…

 

Screen Shot 2014-11-11 at 16.23.26

 

You can also choose the tag appearance, there are ones that resemble the Twitter and Facebook icons if you want the viewer to know it links to social media. I chose the red ‘play button’ tag as it is a universal sign that there is content to be activated to play, I also chose red as it would stand out more and it relates to the colour of YouTube which people associate with sound and video.

After adding all the tags I saved the ThingLink image and viewed it as an outside to test that the links were working properly because sometimes the content doesn’t link correctly straight away. I made one minor change to fix the link in the second image before republishing it as a finished image which can be seen below:

https://www.thinglink.com/scene/588743870460723200

Reflections:

I really enjoyed this task as a starter to Phonar and I think I understood the notion of it: to reengage with sound as a tool and rediscover how effective it can be in storytelling. The concept behind Phonar is that the image has transferred from the physical print to a screen and most screens have the capacity to issue sound therefore we must be aware that the work we produce might need this aspect to become effective. In addition to this is the opportunity to add in interact elements that will really engage the viewer and ultimately improve their experience in viewing an image. Because we have lost that physicality of the print we need to add in another element and interactivity, sound or moving image could be this replacement. I am pleased with my final ThingLink image because I feel I have taken the task further and used previous research to break the boundaries and produce a response that is unlike the rest of the responses I saw in the Phonar class. I like the way it references the concepts of Phonar in terms of including interactivity and sound, I also like the way that it allows the viewer to have some element of control in their experience of viewing the images and listening to the sound.

 

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