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Created Monday, October 5, 2009 | Added Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

The objective of this project was to create a “spacial sound” piece.  For this project, I wanted to try to capture the essence of a physical location with sound.

To begin, I found images of large U.S. city’s cityscapes, specifically Chicago, Houston, Los Angeles, and New York.  I wanted to create (sound) waveforms that matched the shape (or rather the outlines) of the cityscapes.  I was able to do this with the help of a program called MetaSynth and sidewalk chalk.  As you can see in the images below, I projected the cityscape images onto a wall.  I then drew outlines of the cityscapes with chalk on the wall.  Next, I projected MetaSynth over the chalk outlines and recreated the outline as a waveform (actually, judging from the images, I think I may have been manipulating the frequency of a pitch over time rather than the waveform itself).  Finally, I took the resulting audio, and made a small Flash app that plays the audio from the corresponding city when you click different cardinal directions on the onscreen compass.

CONTROLS: Click the cardinal directions on the compass to view/listen to a different city.

Here’s the original project assignment:

Spatial sound

In this project you will use sound to create a 3-dimensional space. You choose the content and the technique or strategy of what you will put in the sound space. There are many ways to do this. The most obvious is to build a physical installation or sculpture where the interaction between the audience and the sound creates an environment. But, the space can be virtual and the experience could be one of headphones and the screen or even headphones and the environment ala Janet Cardiff. The main objective here is to use sound to transform a perceived physical space into a place that is sonically reflective of the content or message of your piece. What I do not want in this project is a soundtrack for a video or a composition/song. There needs to be an element of interaction and participation on the part of the audience


  • Use various audio software to synthesize and transform sound.
  • Experiment with various pieces of hardware such as speakers and microphones and their placement in space.
  • Cultivate a DIY approach to digital art making. (What can I make from what is around me and easily available.)

You determine the final format of this project. Part of the objective of this project is to take an idea and vision and work with it over time. The preparation is as important as the product. Writing reflectively on the blog about your process, how your ideas evolve, and document the research you do to as you create your piece as well as evidence of experimentation of the sound media that you choose plays an important role in my evaluation of this project. At the critique, you must not only turn in the documentation of your final product in the form of a DVD or CD, but also include the supporting files of the material that you worked with to get to the end product. You have about a month to complete this project. During this time, I need to see your process. You should expect to receive feedback both from the class and myself as you work on your sound piece. If any one has questions on what I am asking for, please do not hesitate to contact me.

During this month I will provide opportunities for you to experiment and play with various types of audio components. With respect to your own pieces, you will most likely need to purchase some equipment.

Look around town in thrift stores, pawn shops. Browse Radio Shack (I prefer the one on Main in terms of customer service and knowledgeable staff.), Best Buy, and Circuit City.

Two good sources that are out of town are
American Scientific Surplus

Skycraft Parts and Surplus

Look ahead in the syllabus at the artist links to get ideas about what you might want to do. Think about situations where sound has greatly impacted you or sonic events that were transformative to you. I will expect that during the next month you will have various prototypes or experimental evidence to show the class and myself along the way.