As a driver when I started to navigate through ‘The Sound of locative Media’ text my imagination automatically flowed to the use of a Sat Nav, for me of course it made sense for the auditory element of this device should be the most important part of the interactivity. I found myself agreeing with Behrendt description of visuals becoming a distraction from the importance of what was being said as “the screens of mobile devices is often challenging, especially while being on the move” (Behrendt, 2012. P. 284).
Within our environment our spatial perception is associated with our visual awareness, however if we considered how other mammals navigated their environments such as dolphins that use their sonar senses to move around their spaces we would need to evaluate our importance of the visual within our own world. To enable us to do this the development of digital technology and mobile applications have started to make use of sounds as well as visual elements. When I think of my own environment and apps I have used in the past such as Google maps often the auditory element contradicts the visual icons being shown but it usually the auditory element of the app that is correct. My use of such apps is very general as I often refrain from using one device to navigate my life. As someone who lives and works in an urban environment the National Mall app is an interesting concept as it allowed the user to interact differently with the spaces they inhabited. I found myself comparing the concept of this app to Pokémon go that was launch in the summer of 2016 the similarities of “The app…designed to play exclusively within the physical boundaries” (Bluebrain, 2011b). Although there are similarities between the two concepts of the national Mall app and Pokémon go. The National Mall app is limited by it interactive location and choice of sounds played to the user. However, this could be solely based on the size of the company Bluebrain. The idea of the auditory element of locative media to enable the user to have a personalized playlist is an interesting concept as they interact with the space around them but would the playlist be the same for every user, how would it differ? Perhaps as Behrendt suggested in her description of the National Mall app “you will experience the same music or sound that you experience there before, giving you some (limited) agency over the kinds of sounds you hear” (Behrendt, 2012. P.290)
One could argue that the idea of the National Mall app and others like it is a development of the iPod and its playlist. The National Mall app and playlist alike means that “listeners could own their own acoustic spaces” (Bull, 2007. Pg18). Navigating through urban environment can be a lonely experience as the nature of how we navigate the environment in our daily lives means we are more isolated than ever before. Our movements to and from the daily grind of the nine to five dictates our time and how we use the environment around us, which describe by Bull can become a cold solitary space. By using sound to personalize these spaces allow users of apps like National Mall or personalized playlist to own their journey and interaction with the city in a unique way allowing the user to filter out the sounds of the environment we transitionally inhabit.
Behrendt, F. (2012) ‘The sound of locative media’, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 18(3), pp. 283–295.
PRO, B.B. (2017) Bluebrain – the national mall – location aware album. Available at: https://vimeo.com/24252332 (Accessed: 19 February 2017).
Bull, M. (2006) Sound moves: IPod culture and urban experience. New York: Taylor & Francis.