W3 Locative & Mobile Sound

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.


2 thoughts on “W3 Locative & Mobile Sound

  1. The National Mall is a location aware album in the form of an app, where the music changes as you move around an area of Washington DC. It gained positive reviews on iTunes with one contributor stating they felt they were in a movie (Runner DC, 2017). With this app, people living in cities are able to manage their experience of the urban environment around them, something Bull believes is increasingly happening without our culture. (Bull, 2007: 4). It also links to Bull’s idea of communication technologies cooling down the urban environment whilst warming it up for the iPod user. (Bull, 2007: 9) as people are walking around listening to the app in isolation rather than sharing it or communicating with others in the same space.

    Bull, M. 2007. Sound Moves: iPod Culture and Urban Experience. Oxon Routledge. Pp.4-9.

    Geere, D. 2011. The National Mall: A Location-Aware App-Album. Wired.
    https://www.wired.com/2011/05/national-mall-location-aware-album/ (Accessed 22/02/17).

    Pro, B.B. 2017. Bluebrain – the national mall – location aware album. Available at: https://vimeo.com/24252332 (Accessed: 19 February 2017).

    Runner DC, 2017. Review. iTunes. Available at: https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/national-mall-by-bluebrain/id437754072?mt=8 (Accessed 22/02/17).

  2. While using a Sat Nav, the need of using the screen to look for direction can vary according to different people and the various ways they use it. For a driver for example, Behrendt’s statement that claims that “paying attention to the screen of our mobile phone is often challenging especially while being on the move (2012. P. 284)” can easily be proved but can also be contradicted in some cases. This is merely due to the fact that, first of all, it is safer to listen to a voice for direction while driving than to read the map on the screen of a phone or sat nav. The driver is able to pay attention to the road. In most cases, of the driver is using a maps from their mobile devices, they are sometimes forced to stop on the side of the road in order to read the map on the screen. Otherwise, looking at the screen can be distracting and therefore dangerous. However, for a person who is walking while using the map or Sat Nav application on their phone for example, it makes more sense for them look at the screen as well as to listen to the auditory sound in order to find their way.

    Behrendt, F. (2012) ‘The sound of locative media’, Convergence: The International Journal of Research into New Media Technologies, 18(3), pp. 283–29

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