Start at the entrance of IMA/ITP outside the doors (next to our skeleton)
For the sound walk, I was really inspired by Passing Stranger which provided a new perspective on the East Village. I wanted to also create a sound walk that highlighted elements that a typical visitor of 370 Jay St would never think about. My initial thought was to create something that would be similar to a mindfulness walk in which the listener could stop at different areas and really absorb a specific element. However, I wanted to take this class to develop my story telling skills so I decided to push myself to make a more concrete narrative.
As I learned about the building's history, I became fascinated by how many times this building was reconstructed and its elements were torn down. Each time the building was going to have this brand new purpose, representing innovation, and for one reason or another, the building was shut down. I became really curious about the building's story and it was very symbolic about how we as humans use the things we have around us. We tend to do things in the most destructive and wasteful ways-- especially in the context of our environment. As I thought about these ideas, I realized that I wanted to bring the building to life (almost in an homage to the book, The Giving Tree. While I did chose to use a female voice for the building, in no way did I want this to be a representation of women and I was very concerned about not making a sexist piece.
Instead, I wanted the building to feel like Siri/other robotic voice. I decided to have a human (my wonderful friend Kat) voice the building and have the male Siri voice the intro and the end to have a nice contrast in the piece. I wanted the building to be the one that had the emotions, while the male Siri voice to have a neutral and almost oblivious tone because it represents the people in the narrative.
I started out by looking for inspiration. I was inspired by the tone in this scene of the movie Get Out. I loved how well it portrayed the emotions of entrapment and how the actress felt almost frozen.
I also used this Ex Machina's soundtrack as guide on how to curate sounds to convey this a feeling that was sad, dramatic but in the context of a tech/future tone.
And of course, The Giving Tree, was a part of this mood board.
Since the sound walk was centered on the building, I knew I really needed to build out 370 Jay St as a character. I wanted 370 Jay to have dimension and depth, just like the building's history. I decided to use Thesaurus.com to find words that represented the building. I know this is a silly process, but I did not want to simply state that the building was "sad" about all the changes. This technique also helped me pinpoint the exact emotion I wanted to convey. By seeing all the different words "sad" could mean, I was able to determine that I did not want to the building to be "heartbroken" but I did think the building should be "despondent".
I then started to collect sounds. I collected sounds that built the normal ambience of the space but I was also focused on sounds that would really bring the building as a character to life. I looked for sounds that felt intimate and specific to the building's experience. For instance, I recorded the sounds of a hand brushing the newly painted walls. The sound was rough and picked up the texture of the paint. It really brought a listener's attention the paint's qualities, creating a different relationship/understanding of the paint. It's ability to highlight a different viewpoint allowed me to develop the building's experience and story.
I then started to work on the narrative. I knew I wanted the ending to be the building to shut down because they notice that their walls are already becoming damaged-- meaning once again humans are destroying them. The part I found the most challenging was the lead up. I wanted there to bread crumbs leading up this ultimate shutdown, when the listener notices something wrong with 370 Jay. You can see in the image, I decided to break it down by location and determine the key words that would be those "bread crumbs"
Audition and Testing:
Finally, I put it together in Audition. I thought this would be the quickest part since I was familiar with it but I could not be more wrong. During this time I created different "prototypes" of the sound walk and asked my friends to try it out, making adjustments along the way. The feedback helped me with the pacing and (hopefully) the mixing!
THANK YOU SO MUCH
to Kat for letting me user your voice, as well as Mitchell and Julie for letting me test this out on you! This definitely would not be complete without their help.