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Testing at Gamlebyen skole

2004-01-30

Me Jørgen and Jana did extensive tests at Gamlebyen skole in Oslo this week. Technically everything seems to work well. We tested using my laptop and soundcard instead of the one Jana is going to use for the tour so that’s one thing that has to be tested further at al later stage. The 4-speaker PA system we were offered didn’t impress any of us. According to Jørgen it scores 4 out of 10.000 We need an 8 I think.

One of the textures we’d been creating was made up of 16 synchronized loops creating a groove. That one didn’t work as well as we hoped to. The soundscape is interesting as the kids jump around trying to become a song proper but not quite making it. As most of the 16 tracks contains a lot of silence and occasional hits blips and blops you loose sense of the interaction. We’ll probably leave this out.

The other technique we’d come up with for interaction was to use the doormats as triggers. As we tested we found out that they should be used as on/off toggles instead. If the sounds continues after you’ve left the mat the interaction becomes weaker. I’ve experienced this several times before as well but it’s very much depending on the situation what kind of sound you’re producing etc. The sounds Jørgen has developed works well. Some of them resemble old computer games. Watching the kids jumping around I got associations of a human pin ball game. The kids loved it.

I did quite a bit of experimentation on the background layer during the day. I ended up applying a lot of granulation effects to sounds Jørgen had been providing effectively creating a different kind of background. It’s more eery open and inviting to the imagination. Also the spectral range is larger exploring dark sounds and creating bright shimmers. Afterwards Jørgen wanted to create some new sounds for the mats in response to what i did. To me this is a good example of what collaboration should be all about. Ideas are thrown back and forth and moulded between us the end result being something none of us could come up with on our own.

It’s clear that the whole situation doing the installation in a gym hall sounds being triggered by the kids moving around etc. do not encourage standing still and listen. It’s the movements and changes that becomes interesting rather than listening for subtle sound qualities. At the end of the day we had 6 kids running and jumping as crazy for 20 minutes. They were completely silent and moving in ways that didn’t create sounds. It was fascinating to see a frantic level of activity and at the same time complete concentration on the sounds they created.

Important rule: No teachers allowed! It’s amazing how difficult they find it to let go of the kids and allow them to experience this on their own.

We do not have a name for the project yet. When Jana initiated the project the title was “Kunsten å gå på vannet” (The Art of Walking on Water). It would be a poetic and playful title but the possible religious associations are unintended and could be a problem.

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