Field – City groupwork – Week 3

After having felt very lost and concerned over the last week about the lack of our group’s cohesive ideas for any form of outcome, I was very relieved that we finally hit upon a definite idea that we could all agree on.

In our last meeting, those of us who were there (myself, Ethan, Ruby, and Rhys) were felt like we should return to the theme of sensory deprivation, and it was a discussion we had again at the start of this meeting with the added input of Rhys, although missing Sam and Jadene. While I think I personally preferred sensory deprivation as a theme, I suggested that we continue with the theme of sensory overload as I didn’t want Jadene who had joined the group late to feel as if we were disregarding her ideas in her absence, and there is room to crossover between themes either way.

After some discussion we decided that out of all the senses, the one we should focus on should be sound. Taste and smell are impractical, touch and sight could too easily end up as naive ideas (e.g put your hand in a mystery box or flash lights at somebody), and sound was the sense we could most practically manipulate in an interesting manner. Our decision was also helped by the fact that Sam has experience with making sound pieces by manipulating noise, so he has technical knowledge in the area. I was concerned again about the idea of recording sounds in the city being too naive (recording traffic etc), but everyone agreed that wasn’t what they wanted to focus on and we should look purely at human generated noise such as footsteps or speech.

This then lead us to the idea of a space that echoed and captured noise as people walked through, this reminded me a piece “I am sitting in a room” by Alvin Lucier which Ethan showed to us last week. I then suggested we could install microphones to record the noise and speakers which would then play it back, with the sound becoming increasingly distorted as it echoed and louder as more people walk through adding to the recording. Everyone seemed very happy with this, and it became the base of our idea. We talked about what type of area would encourage a person to walk through, and decided upon some form of corridor. Ruby then suggested that the participants could walk from the corridor of auditory overload into a room that was soundproofed and so extremely quiet, thus heightening the senses and making a strong contrast between two extremes. We agreed this was a strong idea and incorporated it into our plans for the outcome.

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Now that we have a clearer idea of our outcome, we can do some more tailored research to influence it. I am interested into investigating how a person moves through space, and how they can be encouraged to walk through an area (which for now is a corridor), and also the number of people who participate at any one time. Ideally I would like the sound the begin quietly as only a few people walk through it, and then build as it becomes busier. However would the sound swell and subside with the number of participants? Would they enter in a natural flow as curiosity strikes them, or would it be more artifically constructed with participants queuing up and us allowing a set number to enter at set times? Is there a critical mass which draws more people in, or forces them to leave? All these things are areas of investigation to look at before our next meeting.

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