The final day of our Summer University was full of preparations for the presentation in the evening. We spent some time evaluating our experiences from the experimental interventions and actions in Hackesche Höfe and completed a prototype of the echolocation/electromagnetic detector device.
We synthesized both projects and the walk as well as different approaches to redesigning the auditory channel within the urban signal space from a perspective of walking. While the device enhanced the bodily senses with additional input in a sonified form, the public experimentation treated the shared acoustic sphere as something that can be a means of manipulating walking trajectories and allocating crowds in the urban space. The twofold walk can be seen as a bridge between these two poles. It was a collective experience which also used mediated acoustic information through earplugs. Even in this last part the participants shared movement and experiences because we used splitters and they walked in couples.
The preliminary design experiments in Hackesche Höfe didn’t show promising results, but as a first step even this is an important information. In general, people didn’t show pronounced reactions to our added sounds. If they reacted at all, it was just a glance while keeping on walking to identify a possible source of this acousmatic sound. Some minor curious conversations startet though, especially when we placed the sound of a well beneath a pipe for the fire brigade. Without wanting to fall into an audiovisual litany, it must be said that we observed a major primacy of the visual sense with people adjusting their walking and standing to the best possibilities for taking pictures. The sound of a strange alien machine next to them or the recurrent breaking of a vase didn’t seem to come to their attention at all. To be clear, the aim was to use sounds that weren’t language, music nor conventional signals and not merely catching attention because of loudness or extreme strangeness. The latter wouldn’t work for an intentional use in the long run because people would get acquainted to those sounds after passing by a few times.
It will still be exciting to continue these small attempts in the future at another place and with more and different sounds. The specific site is especially crucial because it has to have the right architectural conditions to allow for people to choose different trajectories without the presence of non-sonic effectors that could also be the reason for that.
All in all it was a very interesting and inspiring experience to be part of the Summer University and enjoyed working together in an interdisciplinary group with Sebastian Schwesinger, Sonia Guggisberg, Carla Müller-Schulzke, Uschi Feldges, Christian Kassung, and Holger Schulze.