Creative workshop task 2: Alienated senses
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. This content should then be uploaded for everyone to share and mash-up. In next week’s session we’ll be combining soundscapes with image-based journeys and layering them with other people’s to make new artefacts. You must license this content as CC BY-SA or CC-BY to enable us to do all of this.
Take time to load up your content with as much information as possible such as the time, location, weather, your mood etc , all of this is information that can be dispensed with if not needed but has the potential to add value if included.
For this task I paired up with Yasmin Taylor in which I became the eyes and she became the ears. To say it was a slightly weird experience was an understatement but during the task it made me realise how we can experience a situation differently when using both sense. I found that I did not just want to photograph my journey, but I wanted to photograph key elements that would stand out if I could hear them. After this experience I was not sure how to present this. I did not just want to overlay the whole soundscape that Yasmin had recorded with the images I had taken. So I used specific sounds that related to my photographs in order to match the experience. Whilst making the video I came up with an idea, I wanted to make it seem like I was losing my sight and then all I could do was listen. This meant at the start all you could do was ‘see’ and then there would be no sound. To then have your vision go blurred and you could then hear. I achieved this by using a transition effect to make the image blur out. This task itself was something I had never really worked with before such as accompanying imagery with soundscapes and I feel it creates a rather weird experience as we normally accompany sound with moving image. I do feel it gives a very unique experience and I can definitely see myself using soundscape with images in the future.
I do feel that the feelings of anxiety and suspense are portrayed in the piece however I do not feel you get the sense of a journey or a narrative. It has become a piece that works well together but needs something extra to make it feel like someone (me) is walking out in the dark. I believe in order to transform this into a more narrative piece would be to create an extra soundscape of the sounds heard when actually walking around these places to get a sense of the environment I am in.
My Final Piece
During my tasks I have experimented with soundscapes and photographs, instrumental music and photographs so I wanted to experiment further. During a interview with Fred Richen, he said something that really interested me. During a Skype meeting with Jonathan Worth, Oliver Wood and Rebecca Woodall he talked about how he is with them but he isn’t physically with them. How he could see them but could not smell or feel them. He then said a key line which really intrigued me. ‘I could imagine you more if I was just listening to your voice’. This made me question whether sound on its own could help a viewer imagine something more clearly, would it allow the viewer to create their own idea of the situation that is trying to be told. I felt a perfect task to go back to and extend in this sort of direction would be my spoken narrative. I wanted to create a piece just using sound whether this being spoken words or sounds to help create a visual interpretation in the viewers mind. As my spoken narrative not only included me but also included my dad, I thought it would be interesting to get his version of the event as I believe there is never one version of an event, everyone remembers and notices different things. I gave my dad the same task as me in which he could write the piece in any way he liked.
Just Another Day By Mark Alexander
You anticipate special days. You look forward to special days. I passed my driving test and got married on special days.
My most special day ever, that was when my daughter was born.
But that day in July was ‘just another day’. When you think about it, we’ll all die on ‘just another day’.
“Dad, I can’t swim”
Taught to swim properly at the age of 4. She reminded me of a little seal pup, gliding through the water, but now she couldn’t swim. How could that be?
We had been in and out of the water all day, messing about as we did. To our left I was conscious of this large outcrop of rock extending 15m or so from the edge of where the waves were gently breaking on the beach. It was funny as it had a large structure on top, with what looked like a big red bucket…a warning? I recall the ‘usual’ danger notice about tides, the type you glance at as you run barefoot to the sea.
And suddenly, now towering above us, we were beyond this large outcrop of rock, with no time to reflect on how we’d got there. “Dad I can’t swim”. The knowledge of how well she could swim did nothing but fuel my fear. Things were in the wrong order. Rocks, 5m of water, me, Jade, deep blue sea. I knew I had to get beyond her. If we were getting dragged out to sea, I’d be first. I could feel the undertow playing with my legs, like long fingers, brushing brushing brushing, drag, drag, drag. “Jade you have to swim” I shouted. I remember thinking that no one could see us. Hidden from view, immersed in fear. Beaches are full of contradictions I guess. When you scream for help, you have to be louder than the screams of joy.
I was passed her now. I started to swim, her between my arms, me pushing, pushing, pushing, underneath, drag drag drag.
And then out of know where a huge swell of water picked us both up and threw us towards the jagged rocks of safety, but I instinctively knew, what is given can be taken away, what comes in, goes out. I reached out to grasp what I could. Finger tips, biceps fired by adrenalin. At last, the order was rock, Jade, me. But we were being buffeted by the sea. One cruel twist of fate and we’d be back out there. I shouted at Jade “Climb”, “I can’t” she replied. “Jade, fucking climb” I retorted. I felt indignant towards her. It wasn’t a choice, it was an order.
For a 3 minute microsecond, I released one hand to push Jade up, to start her off. She put her foot on my arm and then she was gone. Up the rocks like a mountain goat. I quickly followed and there we were, we’d reached the summit, the big red bucket above us like our victory flag. It wasn’t our time.
This large outcrop of rock had been conveniently concreted to form a pier. On this tranquil place, I recall thinking that the lifeguard might be looking this way, a glance, a yawn as he looks away. There was a boy standing there, perhaps the same age as Jade. He said “you alright mate”. I looked down and was bleeding. Across my torso and arms were a multitude of cuts, left to right, right to left, all bleeding.
We had been played with that day. The sea, the rip tide, the roller coaster swell, the rocks. They might have said, “don’t’ do that again now, will you?”
The tide continued its relentless march out. We now stood where we nearly died. The rocks, the bucket still towering above us. The fingers had gone, below us only sand. The contradiction of the beach. Jade did her customary cart wheels as she always did. I took a photo. It’s always nice to have mementos of ‘just another day’
Barely two days later, a father and son were dragged to their deaths by rip tides only a few miles from the cartwheels. For them, multiply our fear by a million.
My dad seems to remember in much more detail than I could, maybe because I was younger and the experience alone is traumatic for an adult never mind a child. Now I had both encounters of the event I really wanted to incorporate both pieces into one. However I did not want to just read mine, and then also read my dads and then somehow merge them. I wanted to keep my dad included by asking him to read his piece out and then use both our voice to tell the story. I thought it would be interesting to actually record myself telling my story as it was an option to do so in the spoken narrative task but I went against it. Continuing with Fred Richen’s idea of being able to imagine more with sound than imagery. I will be including soundscapes from archive.org.
Sounds I would like to include:
Beach noise – Laughter, children
Sounds of struggle in water
Scrapping Noise – When Climbing the Pier
These are some of the sounds I hope to use in my final piece but I also aim to find more sounds as I have to remember there are no photographs in my piece that can help create the ‘picture’ in the viewers mind. Going back to a lecture where I listened to David Campbell, I remember the idea that you have to include and exclude parts of a story. When you think of a photograph the viewer knows nothing in regards to what happened before or after the photograph. Something I am going to have to do when mixing my dads version and mine is exclude some parts of the story if they don’t seem to work together or if any parts go off on a tangent, such as the last part of my dad’s version as information about someone else’s fate at the sea becomes irrelevant to the story I am trying to tell of our own experience.
This project itself is rather time consuming as I am having to find certain parts of both versions that work together to create my narrative as well as over lapping with archived soundscapes to help add to the viewers experience and imagination. I would like to create a finished piece but I do feel it might not come together as a completed artefact.
After many hours of editing and cutting I have managed to put a rough piece together. I found it quite difficult to actually find archived sounds that related to what I wanted the viewer to hear. This meant I did have to use sounds from youtube as it was much more specific. Hear is a link to my final piece:
EVALUATION OF MY FINAL PIECE:
Compared to past projects I feel this was a challenging task and it really pushed me to experiment in a field I was not 100% comfortable in. Even though over the course of this module we have had weekly tasks to develop our audio skills my final piece was a little more complex to create. It involved overlaying a variety of sounds to produce a more vivid and realistic encounter for the listener and I do feel this has worked rather well. My aim in this final project was develop a piece in response to a Fred Richen’s quote during a Skype interview ‘ I could imagine you more if I were to only listen to your voice’. I wanted to decipher whether this is in fact true…. Could you picture a scene or event with just a soundscape, in order to produce a visual aspect in the listeners mind. I found it rather interesting to collaborate with my dad as it was a very personal and traumatic event in which we both remembered certain elements that were similar but then other aspects which I or he had not witnessed. Creating this audio piece actually intensified my memory compared to when I just read my encounter to me peers, the sounds took me back in time where I could hear the other children on the beach laughing, the slow motion of the sea as it broke on the beach and then the underwater sounds in which I could personally hear when my head went under water. My aim was to decipher whether sound could help create a visual image in the listeners mind and whilst I listened it definitely did that for me but my question is does it create a visual impact on others? My piece made me realise how important context is and that it can not be a single perspective narrative. This is why I feel my final adapted piece works better than my spoken narrative, because even though my dad and I experienced the same event we recalled it rather differently. It was a strange experience becoming the participant rather than narrating someone else’s story which is what I would normally do as a photographer. Overall, I am rather proud of my final piece, especially it being strictly audio based as in challenged my ability of narrating as well as my technical skills set. I feel I will use audio a lot more in the future as you have to consider different forms of media to portray specific stories, I am glad I did not choose to add photographs to my narrative as I do not feel it would of created an impact as much as sound. I wanted the listener to imagine the scene they were listening to, not to be placed with a photograph which they do not have a connection too, this way they can add their own interpretation to the visual aspect of the piece.