Final Documentation_Conscious_Neil & Kuldeep
The project, “Conscious” is a room installation, aimed to question about the noise level that we live in the city with and makes the user experience all the subtle sounds that get lost in the city noise produced by the modern technological gadgets and our current fast-paced lifestyle. The user upon experiencing the installation will not only be reuniting with the lost silence but will also get led to the lost self-awareness and consciousness of the human body and sounds that the body make. The installation works on a simple technical set up, where several mics are placed in a dark, empty room and the sounds from the room are amplified and are passed to the user via wireless headphones. The sound is amplified live with minimal frequency tweaking.
Concept, design questions, goal:
New York City is growing more and more crowded with a record of 8.5 million residents and a forest of new buildings. Finding an escape from loud cellphone chatter, never-ending parties and club nights, backhoes digging foundations, or any other aural assault is becoming harder and harder day by day. This makes it a city that is never kind to human ears, from its screeching subways and honking taxis to wailing police sirens. To summarize it, New York is really living up to its reputation as the city that never sleeps. This not only leads to several mental and psychological but it also is a health hazard, causing hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing), hyperacusis (an intolerance of normal sound levels) and nonauditory health effects: increases in stress hormones, hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and death.
Getting inspired by this, we wanted to create an installation, an environment that will play with your auditory senses and will tweak the reality of audio. It will be completely opposite of the current New York City lifestyle. So we planned to create an installation that will bring back the lost silence and the subtle sounds. With this, we aim to question the future auditory environment of the city and question about the necessary steps that need to be taken to take care of the audio/noise level of the city.
The research was mainly divided into two parts: New York City noise and the technical aspect of the project: Sound, Sound Card, and Mic. The lifestyle of New Yorkers as a part of research included several subdomains like studying the hazardous effect of the city noise and the rules, the noise code that is currently active in the city. This helped us to contextually made over project more strong once we figured out the current state of the city and how people are suffering the consequences because of it. Apart from this there were technical issues and set up that needed some research like the connection of sound card, how does the sound card functions and how to get it working for a live audio to the speaker feedback. The speaker and the mic also created an endless feedback loop, which had to be tackled in several ways that included the study of methods to make a soundproof roof, how to tweak the frequencies to help with the audio feedback loop.
Audience and Experience:
There is no specific audience that we are targeting. It for everyone and anyone who wishes to experience the different side of the reality, where the audio sense can seek some rest. The user will enter an empty, dark room, where he or she will have to rely on their audio senses to navigate in the room. The user will be assisted by wireless headphones that will give him/her a live audio experience from the mics placed in the room. It will lead the user to be more aware and conscious of the actions that he/she makes in the room and will allow the user to experience the isolation that is always needed in the city that never sleeps. The higher level of awareness and conscious will also lead the user to be more calm and attentive to the environment that gets lost while running around in the city to accomplish several goals with the senses that gest blows up with a constant amount of data. All this will eventually lead to a peaceful, meditate state of mind.
We used 4 mics, an empty room, a sound mixer, wireless headphones along with Ableton Live to set up the installation. The 4 mics are places in different corners of the room, and they are connected to the mixer. The mixer goes to the input of the Ableton Live and then Ableton Live tweaks the live sound feed by increasing the reverb, cutting off the super high and low frequencies. This is then sent to the wireless headphones of the user. With this, the user gets the constant feed of the live sound with a little bit of manipulation. Before arriving at this method, we were working with the open speaker instead of the wireless headphones, but the presence of the mic and the speaker in the same environment caused a feedback loop that was hard at first and finally impossible to tackle. So we ended up working with more mics and a wireless headphones system for running the installation seamlessly.
Prototyping and Testing:
There were two major issues with the execution:
1) When we started with several mics and the speaker in the same environment it caused a feedback loop that was hard at first and finally impossible to tackle. To deal with this issue we ended up working with more mics and a wireless headphones system for running the installation seamlessly.
2) People were playing with the objects in the room, where they could hear the sound that we getting amplified and had more depth. To deal with this we planned to make the room dark, causing people to be more aware of their actions in the room and then just relying on the auditory sense, which in a way led to a successful installation where the interaction in the dark ends up being a meditative state.
Final User Test Video
Thanks to the user Rita.