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Soundwalk 9:09 @ Met Breuer

Updated: Sep 19, 2018

In order to understand soundwalk further, my team and I decided to do a soundwalk together to see if we could get some inspiration for our team project. Since the soundwalk for the team project is limited to 3 to 5 minutes, I thought the 9-min soundwalk around Met might be more referenceable.

Honestly, I already listened to the soundwalk the night before the actual visit, but it felt different for me when we started walking from Met Breuer to Met while listening to the soundwalk. When I listened to it the night before, due to the quiet environment, my room in Park Slope, I was able to clearly hear what the soundwalk has to offer; while during the actual visit, with the constant noise of NYC in the background, the whole soundwalk kind of just blended into the background noise, which was what the composer, John Luther Adams, intended.

The ideal listening balance between the "live" and recorded sounds is one in which you aren't always certain whether a sound you're hearing is coming from your ear buds, your imagination, or from the streets around you. - John Luther Adams

However, I like my experience at night more. Because of the silent background, I was able to fully appreciate the intention of John Luther Adams, which is to regard the continuous noise in the city as melody and learn to admire and enjoy them. Yet, it was during the day-time of the actual visit that I started truly appreciate the real "noise" NYC offers. It was amazing the second I changed my perspective, I stopped being irritated and annoyed by not being able to find a tranquil place in this crazy busy city. It felt like meditating the more I considered the city noise a melody, like regardless of how loud the surrounding is, my mind was at peace.

The Washing Bear Soundwalk

Though I really wanted to go on the soundwalk at Central Park, Her Long Black Hair, and have not gotten the chance to, I actually had my very first soundwalk experience at Central Park about a week before the school started.

It was a night audio tour created by two ITP alumni, Gal Nissim and Jessica Scott-Dutcher, and the experience blew my mind.

A magical night soundwalk through Central Park. (Click to view details and access the audio files)

It was only 2 weeks after I arrived NYC, had not gotten friends to explore with me, so I went alone, which turned out to be one of the best tour experience I have ever had. The soundwalk guided each of us through Central Park at night from the south eastern exit all the way to the very dark center of the park, introducing the history of Central Park, providing fun facts, and asked us to feel the "nature" and look for animals that come out at night.

The experience was personal and magical to me, and the fact I went alone enhanced the experience as I fully immersed myself into the audio and the environment. It was dark and tranquil at night in Central Park while I could imagine how busy the same exact location was during the day-time(as I have no impression of what Central Park is like during the day) with vendors selling food, street artists amusing the audience, and tourists talking to each other. The contrast of the day-time hectivities and the night-time tranquility was very intriguing. As the sound of the footstep leading, the beautiful classic music mixed with the sound of the horses and the carriages romanticized Bethesda Terrace, the fountain, and the bridge. It was confusing whether the sounds of cicadas, frog and the summer night were from the audio file or the actual park. Yet, it felt incredible when the tree, fireflies, and raccoons actually appeared the second they were mentioned in the audio. While the soundwalk telling us how the whole park was artificially created from scratch, it walked us through the darkest and the most "natural "part of the park, which literally felt like wondering in the real forest, fearing that if I had not paid a close attention to the instructions, I would have gotten lost in any turning.

This unexpectedly wonderful soundwalk made me rethink the nature of the experience of a tour. An elaborate soundwalk makes a huge difference from the traditional touring experience, as the former allows the audience to have a more natural and authentic relationship with the exhibits; while the later often shows the exhibits in an excessively crowded and unnatural setting.

#ITP #CommLab #VideoAndSound #soundwalk #Met #CentralPark