Wednesday, 14 September 2016

Post-Project Add-Ins

It's several years since the Soundlines Project and yet in some respects it feels very close and familiar, fresh and alive.

Much has, of course, continued to happen since the Premiere in April 2010 and the period of evaluation, reporting to funders, publication and dissemination that followed. 

The Strata artists continued to develop and deliver innovative community arts projects - Jane with storytelling for learning disabled adults, Russ and Jane with Count Me in, Heartbeats, All Stars and other fantastic publicly funded music projects. Jackie continued her research with pervasive media and different groups of people, technologies and landscapes, travelling from Wiltshire, Leicester and the Yorkshire Dales to Canada and Dubai. 

As I look back through materials and artefacts from the project, there are many that inevitably didn't make it into the blog or film. Some of those are not suitable for public access, some are just simply working documents from behind the scenes.
However, many are useful and rich reflections on the work that happened and the experiences we all had, and as such I will be adding a few more posts to the blog, in particular to fill in gaps where part of the process may have been skipped over quickly - due to our busy schedules and limited amount of time for posting everything at the time! 

The new posts will 'cheat' by being slotted into the dates of the project timeline that they relate to.

However I also believe it is important to retain the original working blog as it was produced during the project, with it's 104 posts, 34 comments and 7425 pageviews, to date (14/9/16) .

So I will use tags to identify 'original' and 'additional' posts, and should any visitor to the blog wish to see only the original posts, or only the additional posts, they can do so by clicking on those tags at the foot of this post. Blogger will then (hopefully!) kindly arrange all posts with that tag in the usual date order, most recent first. 

Note: this post will be shown again whichever you choose. 
To return to see all posts, just click on the url: 

If you were involved in the Soundlines project and would like to update us on your thoughts of the project looking back from the grand vantage point of 2016 or beyond, we'd love to hear from you - please add a comment to this post or send us a private message if you prefer. Those young people from Locking Primary, just about to start their education at Worle, will now have moved through Worle and onto post-16 education or alternatives! And the Worle/Wyvern musicians and media students.... where are you now? How did Soundlines impact you, if at all? Do you ever think back to that windy wet walk on SandPoint, the Premiere with family and friends, and the music and animations you created? Have you returned to Sand Point, on your own, with family, friends, or possibly even with your own small children?! 

Monday, 6 February 2012

Looking back on Soundlines

I've been looking through the mass of media that we all created during Soundlines, and found this lovely picture of Jane, just before the start of the Community Premiere. Hard to believe it was two years ago that we were mapping music into the mediascape with the students at Worle.

A lot has happened since then, building on the legacy of the project, since the final reports submitted to funders eighteen months ago.

I've given several presentations about the project, always generating interest and ideas, as people spark up with the realisation of how pervasive media can weave all these different elements together, and come up with exciting ideas of their own.

Friday, 12 November 2010

Locative Media and DH Lawrence

Jackie and Jane worked with 28 year 9 students from Eastwood Comprehensive for an intensive day workshop on the DH Lawrence Blue Line trail, student responses, and how this could develop into locative media to augment the trail.

What a fantastic day, everyone worked really well together and tackled a big range of activities with some really creative results. 

Thanks to Miss Hale, head of English, and Miss Lee, at the school on PGCE placement for the valuable preparatory work introducing the students to extracts of Lawrence's writing - in particular the kitchen argument scenes - set in the Breach House, where Lawrence lived from 2-6 years of age.

The day started with quick introductions and a recap of themes identified in the preparatory work: childhood, weather, arguments/aggression, mining/work, uncertainty/suspense, to which Strata added: identity, home.

Then we split into 2 groups to walk parts of the trail and visit in turn the Breach House and the Canyons (where Lawrence played as a child). At each location we asked the students to word-storm 3 words for each of the themes, stressing the importance of their individual response, as we'd return to these word-storms throughout the day. 

On return to school, students paired up and were given one of the themes on which to create an improvised mini-drama, or cameo scene. Using their word-storm responses to each of the locations, they created an 'argument' which might reflect difference of opinion in the responses, difference between the locations, tensions in the theme, or reflections on the original texts. In just 15 minutes some great ideas evolved, and each pair then 'performed' their mini-drama to the rest of the class.

After a full and interesting morning, the afternoon activities tightly focused ideas and responses into paper-based form. 

We discussed Lawrence's poem, Discord in Childhood (1916, from the collection Amores).
The 2 verses follow an ABAB ABBA pattern and contrast inside with outside, touching on other themes already identified.

Each pair then had just over half an hour to workshop their word-storm responses and the actions of their mini-dramas into an 8 line poem, drawing on elements of Discord in Childhood to inform the construction of their poem.
Not everyone completed 8 lines, but there were some fantastic original efforts to develop further in school over the coming weeks.

Meanwhile the next activity focused on the images in the poetry, asking each pair to storyboard their poem, a frame per line, as if to create a short illustrated film.

The considered approach behind this was that students would have started with an in-situ, embodied experience of the world through Lawrence's eyes, overlaying their own response to the locations as young people growing up in the area today. This would distill into a physical drama, creating action- images based on the words and themes of their response. Those actions would condense into words in the form of poetry, which could then easily expand again to consider the framing and imagery to accompany the text. Ideally the combination could then be recorded - participant voices with screenshot storyboard frames, as a series of young people's works based on two of the locations of the Blue Line trail. A natural flow from location through embodied reflection to creative output as text and image in time.  

The final pair of activities were intended to demonstrate the way this creative work could augment the trail using locative media. 
Jackie gave a quick introduction to gps-triggered locative media, the empedia website and the Blue Line Locative Media project development. The project is a partnership between DHLawrence Heritage, IOCT De Montfort University and Cuttlefish Multimedia, funded by MuBu. Paul from Cuttlefish, who was filming some of the activities and creative work for use on the project, explained how empedia will work, demonstrating QR codes as a trigger for media content, and dazzling us with the content coming to life on his ipad and iphone. 

Students were quick to grasp the implications of the technology, and were then challenged in the final activity to think about the challenges of organising routes through the vast amount of data/content that could potentially be 'out there' in the virtual environment or online.

Seven coloured balls of wool represented the themes we had explored during the day. Two high tables represented the two locations, Breach House and Canyons.
Each student was asked to write down their word-storms relating to the theme they had focused on, a word per coloured paper, and to peg them onto the theme (wool) near the location described. 6 words = 6 sheets per person x 28 people = quite a lot of pegs!
Next, using coloured mini-post-its, everyone wrote down key words from their word-storms related to the other themes, and attached these to the growing cats-cradle of tags.

A visualisation of tagged data relating to two locations!
What I hadn't anticipated was that in doing this, 7 new poems had been collaboratively created, one per theme.
Students who had completed poems volunteered to read out their own pair's poem to the class, and then to read the new 'poem' created on that theme by the tags of paper.
Quite a lot of words repeated in the new poems, emphasising the importance of giving your own unique response rather than discussing and sharing word-storms amongst friends. It also emphasised how the students had responded in some similar and some contrasted ways to each theme. Surprisingly the second theme narrated had NO words in common with the first theme. The third theme, again very different in responses, had just one word in common - raising the example that text could be narrated not just in a linear way along the themes, but also across themes, offering more ways for 'users' to explore the 'content' or 'data' according to their own interests.
The final pair chose to recite their own poem with different voices for alternate lines, and reflected this in narrating the new collaborative theme 'poem' by reading tags from each location in turn, gradually moving in to reach the mid-point together. Lots more room for experimentation.... and a great way to visualise the technical context whilst returning to our starting point of the day - themes and word storms, collaboration and individuality.

Jane and I both felt what a pleasure it had been to work with such and engaged and inspiring group of young people and two fantastic members of staff - a real pleasure to go away tired but invigorated and wishing we had a couple more days to work up the material further with the students.
The staff have plans to develop the poetry and the storyboards further with in-school media support, so we look forward to hearing how the work evolves and hopefully to experiencing some of it on location when we next visit Eastwood to walk the trail, empedia app in hand!

Wednesday, 3 November 2010

DHLawrence, Eastwood and the Blue Line Trail

We've been busy planning a day workshop for Year 9 students at Eastwood Comprehensive for the Museums and Locative Media Project with DHLawrence Heritage, De Montfort University, Cuttlefish Multimedia and other partners.

The photos are from Jackie's site visit a couple of weeks ago.

Students are already working on Lawrence texts and researching the trail with Elizabeth Hale, Head of English, in preparation for the workshop. We've got an action-packed day lined up, hope it doesn't rain!

Friday, 2 July 2010

Soundlines featured in Mailout journal.

Soundlines article features on pages 24 and 25 of the June-July-August 2010 publication of Mailout.
(2014: No longer available online, so here's a scan of our article from the printed journal)

CALDERWOOD, J. & HARWOOD, J. (2010) Soundlines. mailout: arts work with people, 2010 (June/July/August ), pp. 24-25.

Thursday, 27 May 2010

strata collective article

Lovely full page article about Strata and Soundlines in the new SPAEDA magazine.... you can see more about SPAEDA from their website, and read the article on page 12 of the Summer 2010 magazine.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Documentary films online

Check out the Strata channel, with long (21 min) and short (5 min) versions of the Soundlines documentary by eShed and TCTV at:

Friday, 30 April 2010

Tech tips

Feedback from our technical wizard, blindfish, on his role within the Soundlines project:

"My work on Strata Collective's Soundlines project involved producing an application to parse text logs from an mscape in order to convert the times recorded for audio events into an audio format to be played back online. I chose Processing for the development work, simply because it's what I've been working with most recently, and Jokosher as an intermediary tool to export MP3 audio files, mainly because, once unzipped, it has a fairly comprehensible XML format, and it's free!
The Processing based application can process multiple logs simultaneously and export these to Jokosher project files, which can then be loaded and used to export the MP3s. It also exports a number of files to facilitate the online playback. This second part of the project was an extension of my work on e-merge walks. The mscape log files are now parsed by Flash to present the trace of the walk and to give an impression of the original outdoor experience online. Soundlines extended the e-merge application so that the the trace updates in real-time - i.e. as the audio plays back the trace shows the location at which it was heard - and the user has the option to pan through the audio.

Needless to say there are things that could have been improved - for instance the Flash playback relies on ID3 tags being added to the MP3s to indicate the length of the track which adds to the work involved in processing the files before being able to put them online..."

Thursday, 29 April 2010

Soundlines premiere event at Worle School

A warm and balmy evening for people to try out the mediascape, watch the documentary film, look at the school displays and slideshows, chat to the team and students, check out the website, and interact with the web walks ......

Thanks to everyone who came, and to those who took time to give us feedback - lots of positive comments.

' This has been an amazing opportunity for XX, she has really enjoyed being a part of it. It was great to be invited this evening having heard so much about it and not really understanding! A truly creative use of technology – well done to all of you!'

' Very enjoyable thank you. The students all worked together with all the staff to make it great. Thanks.'

Wednesday, 28 April 2010

Tuesday, 20 April 2010

www = Watching Web Walks

Today Jane and Jackie were in Weston to show the website walks gallery to the Sand Point walkers from the three different schools, to encourage reflection on this different way of experiencing the walk, and to gather feedback which will be added to the web gallery.

Here's a quick preview from one of the Locking walkers..

"When I got on the hilltop there was very long grass, I was excited. It was very wet, muddy and cold but still was fun. My walk was amazing, fantastic and I felt free. I felt the music was elegant, scary and calm. The place and music made me feel excited, amazed and freedom. My favourite thing was not being at school!!!"

Wednesday, 7 April 2010

Behind the scenes

A quick peep behind the scenes, at what happens away from the hilltop to turn walks and traces into single audio tracks for web playback.
As well as the 'public' face of Soundlines it has also been a pioneering project to develop and pilot a system of capture, playback and reflection as part of the Strata learning tool-suite. Ben's been doing an amazing job of turning our wish list into reality.
Now I'm going through all the logs, and using the processes he's created for us, to turn the 58 walks into 58 unique mp3 audio tracks.

We asked everyone to come up with a code name for their walk - some reflect the animations and stories about Sand Point, others are more of a personal memo!

Each ipaq (pda hand-held computer) was set up to record a 'log', a text list of things about each walk, including the codename of the walk, time, the position of the walker every 10 seconds (using gps - satellite tracking), the audios that they triggered by their movements, and the end time of their walk.

There are 50 different audios, most made by the participants and recorded in the music improvisation workshop back in November.
Those 50 audios were mapped, sometimes several times, onto the Sand Point hilltop, spread over about 75 different 'regions' (active trigger areas) for walkers to find as they explored. Some chose to stay in a 'region' listening to the sounds in that place, others ran around, or moved backwards and forwards to catch the sounds they wanted to hear - or to avoid! 

So the first job was copying all the logs from the 21 ipaqs used, onto one computer.
Then checking through and changing any codenames that had been used more than once so that it's easy for their authors to locate them later.

Next job is to use the system that's been especially written for the project, to turn the 58 walk 'logs' into 58 music scores - but not the traditional score with manuscript and notes. Instead we want them as instructions to audio software that can then re-compile the audios as they were triggered on the walk, and make a digital 'score' with the correct audio coming in and out at the correct time!

The picture below shows what just one part of the digital 'score' of one walk looks like. The walk codename is '1998' and you can see that it was made on the 30th March '10, starting at 10:00am. Each block is an audio that was triggered.
This screenshot shows 9 or 10 audio tracks - music made with Sand Point themes including geese, fanfares, submarines, hilltop ambience.
The whole walk (and so the whole digital 'score' also) uses 37 of the 50 available audios, and lasts 30 minutes.
The 'score' then gets 'mixed down' and exported as an mp3, ready for use in the web playback system. - That's another story!

Fingers crossed, the walk, with it's full mp3, and extra surprises, will be up on our website in the Soundlines gallery later this month! 

A folder with some of the 58 walk 'logs' to be processed.
Screenshot showing a tiny part of the log for this walk codename '1998'

Screenshot of part of the 'digital score' for one of the walks.