Mapping Meaningful Sound: The Before or After Question
My CHI project (#hearmyhome), uses sound to amplify what Steph Ceraso has called “multimodal listening,” a process that attends to the bodily, material, and contextual aspects of sonic interactions and relations. #hearmyhome uses the rhythmic resonances of everyday to explore more expansive understandings of space, place, and self. Thus, for a project that is about writing with place, mapping its products and participation seemed a must. As a collaborative team, we decided to hang our research on a hashtag, #hearmyhome, to aggregate data. It allowed us to index user-produced soundscapes while attending to the wider goal of exploring the multiple “homes” of our global participants. At first, we were curious in creating a crawler, a tool that would crawl the hashtag and pin locations of participants’ products. If the research component of the project investigates the acoustic territories of everyday culture, then we would want to visually see its cartographic reach.
Now, in its fifth week, as the sonic event sequence turns the corner on the halfway mark, I’ve taken a step back. I’ve asked myself, “How do I map (and for what purpose) meaningful sound?” Limited by my own technological know-how with Leaflet and Mapbox, the pause in constructing the map and soundscapes knowledge base has been delayed. Well, stopped actually. I’ve taken a hiatus with that part of the project. Collecting the mundane music through each sonic event, I’ve decided to chart and map #hearmyhome’s participation at the conclusion of the 8-week sequence. The engagement between #hearmyhome participants across Twitter, Instagram and Facebook is far more interesting than any meaningful work that would happen by observing the expanse and scope of participation concurrently. Ultimately a pedagogical project, #hearmyhome has already sparked interesting instructional questions. For example, users have asked how remediating a ‘Where I’m From…’ poem may change if choosing not to write it using alphabetic print, but instead selecting sound as the mode of primacy and attaching it to place. Deciding to map these small moments and glimpses of ambient audio after the sonic even sequence, we hope to keep the buzz alive far into the future as we lurk, learn, and lead alongside of you all.
If you are still interested in participating in #hearmyhome join us by signing up for our weekly emails here. Like our page on Facebook for more information on each sonic event or simply ‘lurk and learn’ by following the #hearmyhome hashtag across Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.
Interested in what participant sounds like? Click the Soundcloud link below and listen to how Steph responded to the prompt for our fifth #hearmyhome sonic event. We chose Steph’s example as it illustrates not only the beauty of noise, silence, and everyday hearings, but also for her ability and skill to remix the found sounds into a song all of their own. We encourage you to join the #hearmyhome collaborative at any time and we look forward to earwitnessing the everyday with you.
Note: Hours after publishing the original version of this post, I found the How to Make a Sound Map: Cartographic, Compositional, Performative article on the Acoustic Ecology blog. May be worthwhile for those of you interested in the intersection of sonic composition and narrative cartography.