Comm Lab: Audio & Video: Soundwalk Planning



Our first assignment in CommLab: Audio + Video is to develop a 3-5 min sound walk with our group after each having experienced various ones in the city.  My two group members, Brent Bailey and Mary Notari, experienced Passing Stranger: East Village Poetry Walk. 

They both really liked how each character voice became associated with a specific kind of content in the walk. One woman, whenever you heard her voice, you knew she was giving you walking directions, due to the context of that being the only time you would hear her. We thought it might be nice to try and incorporate that strategy into our walk as well.

Questions we have:

  • can we tell people where to start? or do we need to be extremely explicit of where the location is within the audio if there’s no map?
    • ex: start in the tisch lobby under the Exit sign by the Goddard stairs
    • versus: Begin in the lobby in front of the Goddard staircase, standing underneath the exit sign — the Goddard Plaque on your right and Stair E door on your left.
  • do we need to be explicit about where our quotes are coming from during the duration of the walk or w a takeaway? or is it okay to just have it referenced on the online documentation?
  • how to make the walk feel focused, more specific when lassoing a more ambiguous concept
    • we found diagraming the arc really helpful on the white board
    • user testing will be helpful the next couple days too



LiminalSpaces: Soundwalk 

Group: Brent Bailey, Mary Notari, and Becca Moore

Route Draft

IMG_3857.JPGBegin in the lobby in front of the Goddard staircase, standing underneath the exit sign — the Goddard Plaque on your right and Stair E door on your left. Narration then tells you to walk forward and sit down on the bench found between the 2 columns in front of you.



As you begin walking you hear a quote and some light atmospheric sound:

Stories are compasses and architecture; we navigate by them, we build our sanctuaries and our prisons out of them, and to be without a story is to be lost in the vastness of a world that spreads in all directions”  Rebecca Solnit, the Faraway Nearby




You sit down and are facing three large framed photos,  from the Richard Renaldi’s Exhibit “Touching Strangers”. There’s a stairwell behind you and are sitting in the middle of the open space of the Lobby/Entrance hall. As you’re observing the space around you, a voice comes in reading:


1: of, relating to, or situated at a sensory threshold : barely perceptible or capable of eliciting a response

2: of, relating to, or being an intermediate state, phase, or condition : in-between, transitional

from the Latin līmen, meaning “threshold””








 You hear light atmospheric sounds  and are then prompted to stand from the bench, walking towards the Tisch exit doors. As you do, you hear a voice read a quote from an architectural journal talking about thresholds:

At the main entrance to a building, make a light-filled room which marks the entrance and straddles the boundry between indoors and outdoors, covering some space outdoors and some space indoors. The outside part may be like an old-fashioned porch; the inside like a hall or sitting room (p.625) 




The narration then has you walk through the doors stopping on the curb of the sidewalk. You’re told to head back into Tisch through the entry doors once you hear an elevator door chime. As you walk outside, you hear a crescendo of multiple voice tracks & atmospheric sounds. This is sonically, the climax of the narrative arc.






you hear an elevator chime as a way to cue you to walk back in through the entry door






As you walk into the entryhall lobby, you hear another quote (from one of the options below) from the Journal of Architectural Planning & Research:


a) “the entrance hall is the transition space par excellence between inside and outside. It controls the access of people and objects between private and public domains, and it regulates the admission of wanted, unpolluted matter and uwanted polluted matter inside the house which is more symbolic rather than secular”

b) You hear a quote from the architecture journal, “the entrance door of a domestic building is not only the demarcation between the inside and outside but is also the physical barrier between sacred and profane worlds”

c)Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 8.07.01 PM.png




You are prompted to get into an elevator on the lefthand wall.



You are encouraged to not push any buttons but see where the elevator takes you. You hear another quote with some atmospheric sounds:

“It is the empty space which makes the bowl useful.”






We hope to weave atmospheric sounds from other liminal spaces outside we’ve captured throughout the walk, like the subway or pre-recorded tisch lobby sounds.



Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 11.14.20 PMIMG_3833IMG_3822IMG_3839



Diagraming the Arc

*green =  notes about readings & audio element placement

*red = physical actions of the sound walk participant

we used the timecode of the different actions and audio files to help us estimate the time of the edit, and to help visualize where to put certain sonic beats


Narrative Arc:

  • Exposition  
    • In the lobby near Goddard staircase -> walk to the bench between the 2 columns
    • Solnit Faraway Nearby Quote + Liminality Definition


  • Rising Action  
    • get up from bench, walk towards Tisch exit doors
    • Architecture Journal quote
    • atmosphere sounds + slow crescendo of multiple vocal tracks


  • Climax 
    • Exit through the doors and walk to the sidewalk curb
      • multiple vocal tracks hit a peak as you’re outside
      • quotes are mostly from Journal of Architectural and Planning research
        • if need more material for the layers – maybe sentence fragments from A Pattern Language talking about entryhalls, thresholds and doorways?


  • Falling Action  
    • Go back inside through the Tisch entry doors once you hear an elevator chime.
      • voices decrescendo to one vocal track only, or atmospheric sounds
      • architecture quote? dependent on time


  • Resolution 
    • walk through lobby and enter into an elevator, but don’t select a button, let the elevator take you where it wants too.
      • Laozi quote / atmospheric


Tone:  Experimental, Poetic, Architectural, Meditative 


Sound samples – many of our sounds are stored in a shared google drive between the three of us while editing


Mary’s soundcloud

Brent’s souncloud

Becca’s soundcloud






Final Quotes & Route Location Selections 



The selections we decided on were from:


  1. Transition Spaces And Dwelling Design by Roderick J. Lawrence // Journal of Architectural and Planning Research – Vol.1, No.4 (December 1984) pp 261 – 271 
  2. Tao Te Ching by Lao tzu
  3. The Faraway Nearby, Rebecca Solnit



CAPTURING SOUND: Wind, Plosives, and Sibilance



While working as a production assistant at a post-audio studio,  engineers and their assistants mentioned they really liked IZotope to help repair audio quality?

We had difficulty with “s” sibilance the most. After getting a windjammer, our plosives seemed to be more under control, as well as wind sounds for outdoor recordings.






Initial Brainstorm / Inspiration

+ we were interested in how Solnit weaves memory, architecture, and place, as well as the idea of psychogeography + the situationists

+ before we re-read the exercise prompt we were thinking more about the city as a larger entity. When reflecting more on Tisch / 721 – we were initially really inspired by the stairwell, and the idea of a transitional space. For the first few days we were brainstorming about the elevator and the stairwell, and thinking about the phrase liminal architecture. When we thought about how we wanted the walk to be more physically accessible, we decided to focus on the Entryhall/lobby area & the elevator.

+Reading the definition of liminal while the participant sits on the bench, we hope that they’ll see  Richard Renaldi’s Exhibit “Touching Strangers”. That maybe it will help draw a conceptual connection of people as architecture, help question private/public space, as well as what does liminality mean between two people, not only two spaces. 



Nonstop Metropolis: A New York City Atlas


“Each of us is an atlas of sorts, already knowing how to navigate some portion of the world, containing innumerable versions of place as experience and desire and fear, as route and landmark …

The trilogy, Solnit notes, arose from “the belief that any significant place is in some sense infinite, because its stories are inexhaustible and the few that are well known overshadow the many worth knowing.” Any place can therefore be mapped in innumerable ways, each casting before the viewer a particular point of view and thus contributing to cartography’s long history as power and propaganda.

Screen Shot 2018-09-15 at 12.37.37 AM.png

“A city is a machine with innumerable parts made by the accumulation of human gestures, a colossal organism forever dying and being born, an ongoing conflict between memory and erasure, a center for capital and for attacks on capital, a rapture, a misery, a mystery, a conspiracy, a destination and point of origin, a labyrinth in which some are lost and some find what they’re looking for, an argument about how to live, and evidence that differences don’t always have to be resolved, though they may grace and grind against each other for centuries.” – Intro to Nonstop Metropolis



Sandman / Tale of two cities 

Screen Shot 2018-09-14 at 11.46.23 PM.png

sandman3_cover.jpg“That is where I believe we have come. We are in the dreams of the city.  That’s why certain places hover on the brink of recognition why we almost know where we are.”











A Pattern Language

IMG_9817.pngInspired us to think about the patterns in architecture and how architecture can dictate  experiences of liminality, verses liminality dictating the architecture?












1 thought on “Comm Lab: Audio & Video: Soundwalk Planning”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s