Currently, we are engaged in a group project that is centered around the theme of location aware apps. There are other constraints too but I don’t have the time to present a full run down. The purpose of this journal has shifted a little now and its not an academic, marked piece of work and more a place where I can record some what’s, where’s and why’s so that I refer back to this in the future. It’s content should be enough that it jogs my memory of the process and not a full account of everything, so apologies for that.
As part of week ones content we were advised to read a piece called “Step and Play!: Space as interface in the context of location-based musical album apps” found on the ACM Digital Library.
Using the space
The paper talks about the use of the environment in order to access content within a musical album that you own or are experiencing. So the idea is that you have to travel to different locations to play the different songs or that the audio changes and updates based on the listeners physical location. I like the sound of that (Ha!) but the hermit in my immediately thought, ‘yes, thats fine, but I have paid for this I will expect to be able to access it from right here in my throne!’. So, I must say that the purpose to which this material was applied in the paper didn’t really make me want to actually use musical albums but it was food for thought.
Music in urban environments
Now this was interesting to me. I found that it resonated with me because the author talks about the combination of the physical locations that are being traversed by the listener and the ‘invisible’ layer of music that sits alongside or over the top of that more visual and physical experience. He talks about the fact that personal music really was the first mobile AR system. And I think he’s right. A persons reality, how they experience the physical space in which they find themselves, is changed by whatever they are listening to. I have personally experienced this and found it very interesting to have a vocabulary with which to talk about the effect that the use of personal audio can have. The paper talks about putting the listener in the directors chair, that they have agency over this physical sense of hearing and all without any real consequence. There is nothing that the listener has really given up in order that they can do this. I know, I know, they need to more careful crossing the road and all that, but, essentially, they are still in command. It’s very satisfying to have that choice and in thinking about that, it’s made me think how much listening to music may be less to do with the music and at least a little to do with enjoying that agency. Hmm…
What is means to us
Our project (which will be discussed in other posts) will use this structure and we have agreed that the narrative and player directions will be delivered via headphones as much as possible. Our idea centres around making the player feel like an Agent and one of the key mechanics for that is that they will be able to interact with a fully voice acted Handler. I think that this will increase immersion and have the effect that the paper talks about. I hope that we will be able to augment the reality of the player using the headphones as much as any other technology we a planning to incorporate.