This Blog Post is a reaction to the John Luther Adams’s Sound Walk that guides the audience from The Met Fifth Avenue to The Met Breuer and viceversa. I prepared myself to be able to walk at the same pace as the audio was indicating, which meant that I had to memorize the streets that I had to follow in order to avoid be checking for directions at the middle of it.
I started the experience from the Met Breuer, heading “Uptown”. During the first block I was able to identify various familiar noises but in general I was trying to fully immerse myself in the experience, which was immediately difficult due to some cute kids and their moms walking in front of me, first I thought they were not part of the sound walk that I was following, but later I realized the calm sensation that I was feeling while watching the kids play with their moms and the way that the sounds were somehow aligned to the experience that I was having.
The moment when I crossed the street and I faced Central Park, I was probably expecting that the sound will change drastically, since my visual perception of the place was also changing a lot, coming from the hustle of the city and immersing myself into the Park and its green scenery, however when I turned right to follow the sidewalk I realized that probably the author didn’t make that change in the drastic way that I expected because the audience will continue walking along the division between nature and city.
While walking along the sidewalk I was trying to keep up my pace so that the sounds will match with the places that I was. While being totally consumed by the preoccupation, I was not enjoying the walk in the way that I should have been, until the kids reminded me (again) that I had the ability to just let go and left myself soak the ambience. At the moment that I was feeling most worried, I could hear the laughters of kids and some sounds that were coming from a playground, I looked to my right and there it was:
At that moment I was totally confused by technology and reality, I couldn’t identify where the sounds were coming from, was it the sound of children playing and laughing in the real life or was it just my earplugs communicating that sound? Was it real or just a fake experience?. I decided to stop trying to figure out if I liked that or not, and move on with the experience. In a weird way I was feeling calmer since I knew my pace was aligned with the sounds, and I guess my previous experiences (like feeling lost in NY) affected the perception that I had from the walk, in a way, I believe that is what the author wanted because nobody will have the same reaction to the exact same audio file.
While crossing the street the audio was guiding me with some ambulance sounds and cars in the background, which was very accurate at the moment, however I found myself wondering why did the author decide to keep such a calm background while I was crossing a very congested street, in this case I felt isolated from the reality because the sounds were not accurate to the reality and I guess it was a good reminder of my own interpretation of the piece.
At the end of the “Uptown” clip I arrived to The Met Fifth Avenue, expecting a spectacular change of the sounds (which didn’t happen) but by this time, I was already conscious that the author wanted me as his audience to have a calm and relaxed walk, and forget about the hustle of a regular Tuesday morning in my Graduate Student Life.
The “Downtown” clip started immediately in my phone, which helped me turn around and start walking in the opposite direction, going back to my start point. I couldn’t contain to think about the fact that I was doing the exact same thing again, however I was surprised by the fact that the scenery was the same, but from a different perspective. I already knew what to expect in a visual way, but I had no idea what the author was going to communicate with the sounds in order for me to have a different experience than the one that I already have had.
I ended up enjoying more the second piece once I was acquainted about the way a Sound Walk worked and I left my senses truly immerse in the experience without focussing too much in the directions, the street names and my pace matching the audio files. Overall I consider that this was a good experience for me to start understanding the basic principles of sound interfaces and how to use them to communicate feelings to the audience.
Week 1 Assignment: Click Here to access the group recordings for the 721 Broadway Sound Walk.