August 31, 2014 · music sound art

Listening around EMPAC (2014)

[Note: this piece is no longer available as an app.]

The Wheel within the Wheel is a sound art composition for custom software running on smartphones. As of July 2014, there is an iOS version available, and there will be an Android version Fall 2014. The piece is based on two kinds of wheels within wheels, spatial and temporal. The spatial wheels are geographic regions defined by latitude/longitude points. The temporal wheels are the 24 hour day and sunrise/sunset times as days progress through the year.

Throughout the day, the base frequency of the piece glides almost imperceptibly from its low point in the middle of the night to its high point in the middle of the day. Geographic regions are placed at points close to EMPAC, the site of the Deep Listening Convference. Each region contains a different (but complimentary) sonic potential. Each frequency present in the region fades in and out with a differing period length, which can be as long as twelve hours. The listener's location within the region causes the sounds to be mixed in different ways.

The piece is conceived as a massive, ever-changing sonic system that, while it should be identical if one returns to the same spot at the same time on the same day, is never exactly the same. It can act as a tool for opening one's experience of sound. It can serve as a meditation aid. It can alter one's perception of sound after awhile...

The sound walk is a GPS-enhanced software application that senses the participant’s movement and location and plays synthesized sounds at specific points through the landscape.  Visitors are encouraged to download the app in advance of their visit and wear headphones for optimal listening.  Be mindful of motorists, bicyclists, and other pedestrians when in proximity to roads or parking lots. You may have to adjust your volume controls at times. For best results, start at a moderate level.

Important: The app is configured to continue running in the background. Please press "stop tracking” on the TRACKING screen when you’re done in order to preserve optimal battery life.

Concept, sound design, and mobile app development: Tom Stoll.

"The Wheel" was created for the 2nd annual Deep Listening Conference at EMPAC, July 2014.

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