Locative Audio Play

Abstract (in English): 

The paper describes and reflects upon a research and development project specifically related to a sound installation – Listener (Hoem 2014) – where the purpose has been to examine artistic possibilities when staging an auditive user experience, via micro positioned mobile devices. Listener is augmenting an existing environment, adding a fictional layer, using sound as the only expression. The auditive text is experienced through headphones, connected to a location aware mobile unit, which is positioned by “beacons” (Bluetooth LE transmitters).

Listener tries to relocate an environment, from Bergen railway station to the Bergen University College’s premises, using sound. To this environment we have added six fictional characters, and the user can listen to these characters’ cell phone calls. The text has to be experienced by moving around, as the sounds corresponds to the user’s position and orientation.

What distinguishes Listener from many other installations that are often based on localisation by GPS is the concept of micro positioning. The paper will discuss and exemplify this concept in general, and look more specifically into how this can be implemented to tell micro positioned stories.

Micro positioned texts are discussed in light of the experience of place (locus) and the perception of space (platea). When following the development of theatrical performances back to when travelling companies were performing in the streets, the theatre companies had to be able to adapt their performances to different places. This was achieved by a close understanding of the two ways of using space as an integrated part of the performance: The platea, an open space used to perform the play, contrasted by the locus, a defined space that can be given representational meaning. Locus always represents a specific location, and the platea is essentially fluid and non-representational (Dillon, 2006:4).

Where a space is given by the physical environment, place can be seen as constructed through a meeting between mediated artifacts, actors and interaction between those. Thus the linking between place and space becomes determined by social relationships, emotions and sensations. There will always be several, often competing notions of place, which leads to a potential for staging different narratives within the same physical environment.

The paper will discuss and try to exemplify and finally conclude upon questions about how the relationships between locus and platea are influenced by mediation artefacts that represents parts of the environment by virtual and/or augmented artifacts, and how this relates to concepts of electronic literature.

(Source: ELO 2015 Conference Catalog)

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Hannah Ackermans