Silence. Does it really exist? True silence is hard to find as sound is always around. From the smallest interactions of quantum particles to the Earth’s ever-present resonant frequency, sound exists everywhere in the material world. We, humans, rely greatly on our sight. Sound usually comes after the optical images in the definition and the construction of our “reality”. Yet our ears can detect ten octaves of the electromagnetic spectrum while our eyes can perceive only one : the visible spectrum. New-media artists explore the interaction between the visual and the sound challenging the brain’s perception with design and emphasis.
Soundtrack is an interactive sound artwork by Gokce Kinayoglu whose installation space is the Internet; the universal gallery space curated by you. Finding the piece in the online domain requires a bit of luck or specific directions, as the vastness of the virtual world expends exponentially. Once there, a welcome screen instructs the user to choose a location to jump to and to turn the volume on before proceeding. The trained eye will notice the familiar icons of Firefox and the Creative Commons at the footer of the page suggesting the nature and the spirit behind this piece: free & fun 4 all. Clicking on the license announces soundtrack’s desire to remix and share, while an easy-to-use, easy-to-share widget enables this to happen.
Soundtrack offers a handful of places from around the globe to “hear and track”. The choices include cities in Germany, Portugal, USA, Turkey, Italy, Spain, and Switzerland, and one might consider if there is a connection between them. Upon selection, a familiar Google map appears within the interface. On the map, a red line marks a path through the location. Underneath the map there are some unusual additions: a play button, a time line and a volume controls. On the right, one can find information about the date, time, location and equipment displays.
Press the play button and the journey begins. The yellow dot progresses and the path turns green. Sounds begin to flow out of the speakers. Electromagnetic waves travel directly to your ear. soundtrack like a portal takes you across the globe and back in time to the destination of your choice. It transmits audio-visual energy in a unique conceptual design that combines the static visual of the map with the rich dimensionality of the sound. The recorded sounds open your mind to the experience of the walk while the map satisfies the desire to know the location (of the I). The sounds definitely add an inner dimension to the outterness of the map.
The artist/designer created a platform where art happens online as a result of user contribution and participation. A link on the website explains how to contribute work to the art, and what the parameters are. For Soundtrack, you must provide sound and GPS route recordings of a walk you took. In doing so, you can become a collaborating artist to the piece. Your contribution becomes part of the geographical sound collection.
New media allows net artists to create art, in new and existing ways. Adding sound into the mix, net artists express their intentions in new forms delivering a complex experience with relatively simple mechanisms. The multi-user environment of the Internet takes the art and gives it another spin as it opens it to global collaboration, real-time generation and user participation. We perceive our reality through our senses and as technologies evolve, there are more and more tools artists can appropriate for its (re)construction.
By the time this article is published, I myself have submitted a recording of a walk in Boulder, Colorado by the creek side. The simple act of walking around in silence, listening to the environment, and recording the sounds is terrifically exciting. One might rediscover the beauty that exists in the natural surroundings that often gets lost in the noise of everyday distractions. It is also rewarding to be able to share with others through works of arts, such as soundtrack, on the global domain.