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The Rough Mile: a Design Template for Locative Audio Experiences

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The rapid development of mobile devices, networks, and sensors over the past 20 years has expanded the range of listening experiences such that they are not constrained to homes, cars, workplaces, cinemas, and concert halls. Locative or mobile listening experiences come in many forms. Individuals can listen to playlists on their smart phones where the ambient environmental sound is masked by the donning of headphones and replaced with a user-curated soundtrack. In addition, artists have seized upon mobile technologies to explore new opportunities and settings to create and present sound art where the location serves as a stage for presentation. Sensor-driven technologies enable contextually guided media experiences that are responsive and personalized. In this paper the authors chart the design, composition, and authoring of “The Rough Mile,” a dynamic locative audio walk in two parts that combines spoken word, original and found music, user-generated content, and ambient environmental sound. The design of the locative walks, set in city center streets, deliberately sought to explore novel mechanisms to create thematic and structural relationships between the audio treatments and attributes of the built environment. The article reflects upon a distinct design approach and the resulting challenges that emerged from the design of locative walking experiences.

JAES Volume 66 Issue 4 pp. 231-240; April 2018
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AES - Audio Engineering Society