Thanks

Thanks

Today was the take-down of the installation.  Without exception, all of the retailers were very positive about the installation and its effect on the street throughout the week.  All appeared quite proud of their ‘sonic garden’ and a few have expressed a desire to retain at least a version of the work.  Streetwaves certainly couldn’t have happened without their good will and cooperation and so I would like to finish this blog by thanking them all: –

A.E. Barrow & Sons Ltd, Andrea Antoniou Hair Fashions, Autowash, Bare Bones, Busy B’s, Blackbourn TV, Blundells, Europe Store, Hawaiian Tropics, Makari’s, Nickel Books, Petshop, Smiffy’s, Sittingbourne Shoe Repairs & Engravers, Spenhill, Stadium, and Trendy.  And a special thanks to Sarah Vernon and all at FeONIC for their advice and support as well.

END OF BLOG

audio journeys

audio journeys

score

The score for streetwaves is constructed in such a way that the different waves sound in a way that guides the listener.  Rather than occurring randomly, the sounds appear to move slowly along the street emanating from the next available shop window.  In this way the tuned-in listener is able to predict the sounds’ journey and be able adjust how they themselves move through the installation accordingly.  In fact, the installation has four of these journeys happening simultaneously along the 200m stretch of street, and so wherever the listener is they won’t be that far away from the next audio event.

Of course, these audio journeys happen quite slowly and so it would be possible for someone to walk quickly down the street and miss the installation completely; however, for those that take their time it isn’t long before the high street appears to be alive with the quietly moving sounds.

This evening doubled as the official launch of my streetwaves installation and also the umbrella Encounter project (of which streetwaves is a part).  I was happy to note that the installation was very well received with everyone commenting on its effectiveness.

slow dancing

slow dancing

l_Zones

With everything installed, it was just a matter of equalising the different waves for each window pane as well as setting an appropriate sound level – basically, seeing how quiet I could get the piece for it still to work as it is at its most effective when the sounds just colour the street’s naturally peaceful ambience.

The different waves can be heard moving slowly along different parts of the street, performing a slow dance as they fade in and out of each other.  The result is effective, adding to the street’s character without being intrusive.

final adjustments

final adjustments

hawaiianT-2

Finished installing in all the High Street shop fronts this afternoon.  With that job done, it was back home to make final adjustments to my score based on what I discovered today, and then after that it will be simply a matter of transferring all seventeen tracks to the separate Sansa Clip players.  Tomorrow, before I set off, it will then be a matter of synchronising all the players and then installing them before the ‘official’ launch time of four 0′clock.

I’m interested to hear what the installation will sound like on the street.  I haven’t heard it all in situ before as I have had to work with how I imagine the end result might be.  Tomorrow I will find out!

windows

windows

windowWeb

Well, I’ve been learning a lot about windows this week!  I can now tell the difference between the different types of glass used on the the various shop fronts, simply by tapping with my fingernails on the window surface.  Actually, this has become quite a useful skill as the glass type greatly affects the quality of the installation’s sounds.  The best is the old fashioned single pane, and so before I install I begin my visit with my tapping in order to learn where might be the most advantageous to place my FeONIC driver.  I am almost complete now – only three shops to go!

15%

15%

muse1

The usual gremlins are beginning to make their presence known this week, as tried and tested equipment begins to behave in unexpected ways.  This isn’t too much of a problem as I usually acquire about 15% surplus to any installation’s immediate requirements.  This means that there is the flexibility to deal with malfunctioning equipment before, or even during the installation’s run.

installing

installing

bouquet-2

It’s the last week of preparation before the installation goes live, and so I am predominately spending this week installing the work in my seventeen locations along the High Street.  Each of the shops requires a different amount of work and so I have started early to ensure that I have plenty of time.  As I have completed the installation in each shop, the staff have all come out to have a listen as well as check out some of the sounds emanating from the other premises.   For myself, I am listening to the volume of the sounds and the tonal quality afforded by each glass front, and making notes so that I can make last minute adjustments to the score.

connections

connections

solder1

All the sound files are complete now – 120 in all – and scored on to a seventeen-track composition (one track for each particpating shop front).  So now, it’s back to the technical side of things as I finish off making the various connections required to join all my various pieces of equipment together.  As I mentioned earlier in this blog, because of the varying circumstances in each shop I am planning to use a few different equipment set-ups and so I have devised some custom connections so that everything can be joined together – no matter what is required.

function

function

trendy-2

It has been interesting weaving the church choir recordings with the different shop sounds  together in the score.  What is noticeable (at least to me) is the way the different sounds function, in the sense of their psycological effect.  In most cases, I do not believe that this is by chance; rather, the sound has been designed that way.  The gentle singing of the choir slows the pulse and encourages a reflective state, whereas a washing machine is designed to sound like a trustworthy worker – and the same for a lot of machines that are designed to replace some apparently hard chore: they have to sound like they are saving you from that hard graft!  And so the sounds in the installation also say something about why one might want to avail themselves of a particular trade.

anticipation

anticipation

doubleBirds

As I have been going into the shops to measure up and work out exactly what each location requires, I have taken the opportunity to speak with the staff present in order to keep them up to date with my progress.  On the last couple of visits specifically, I have been playing them the various sounds that I have created for their shops, and so far at least(!) everyone has been delighted.  Ideally I want the shop keepers to have an understanding of what sounds are being played from their windows and what my thinking was in creating them, as if they have any quibbles – for example, feeling that I have misrepresented them in some way – then now is the time to sort things out (whilst there still is time).  So far, so good though, as the general response is one of appreciation, excitement and a positive anticipation of the event.

score

score

barebones-1

With all my waves completed, I am now in the process of scoring out the composition – organising which sounds will go where, and when.  This stage of the process is about achieving a balance between getting across what it is that I want to communicate and also how the installation’s potential audience would like to be communicated to.  To have the waves sounding from apparently random locations will have my audience spending less time engaging with the installation with the result that the work won’t be as effective as it could be,  and so I am attempting to devise a structural narrative that will allow its audience to feel more comfortable in reading their experience wherever and whenever they encounter the sounds.

puzzle

puzzle

busyBs-1

Revisited the town to begin taking exact measurements for each of the shops that will be housing a component of my installation, as each one has to be wired for sound and in the most unobtrusive way.  Factors such as how easily accessible the electric points are, window size, and whether we are going for a mono or stereo set-up determine exactly what equipment will be used, and therefore each location is like a mini-puzzle as I attempt to work out the best thing to do.

permutations

permutations

record

I have got up to twenty-six independent FeONIC sound sources for this installation to be placed at various intervals along the 200 metres of the High Street that Streetwaves will occupy.  Each of my ten Omnivox FeONIC drivers come with their own F110 amp, which is interchangeable with any of my sixteen F4s (see below).  For those shops that have big enough frontage for me to utilise a stereo set up, I have also have my TA2020 amps.  This means I will have a number of different ways of wiring up each system; however, each different combination of amp and driver sounds different, and different enough for my ears to warrant needing to equalise my different sound files for each particular set-up.    And so, in my home studio, I have the different driver/amp combinations simultaneously running with the FeONIC drivers stuck to my window.  This means that anyone who is passing is able to hear whatever sound I am working on – if they are listening!

test and test again

test and test again

volPot

For my installation at least, there are two types of testing that I need to do for whatever equipment I am using.  First of all, I need to make sure that whatever it is works as it should.  Sometimes, this is simply a matter of switching the device on and running it for a few minutes; other times one needs to run a variety of tests and over a number of days, in order to be able to properly note variations in fine detail.

The second type of testing requires a much longer period of time and is basically a rehearsal for the installation itself.  In this situation I am testing to see whether the equipment will run as it should under duress for a week, or whatever the run of the installation is.

My replacement plus remaining amps arrived today and they are all working as they should – so they have passed the first test.  Now, we’ll see if they pass the second!

changing times

changing times

weddingShop-1

For the newly opened wedding shop, the proprietor and I agreed that I would try and find some suitable ‘wedding’ sounds to represent their shop; however, I didn’t want to use his first suggestion of church organ music, nor was I keen on using any of my existing collection of different bell peels, as it is important to me that all the sounds for this installation actually come from where streetwaves is to be located.  So, I have been waiting for St Michael’s Church (at the other end of the High Street) to have a wedding service so that  I could record the bell ringing, and finally on Saturday I had my opportunity.  At 4pm, I climbed the church tower to meet the six bell ringers (out of a possible eight) gathered for the occasion from St Michael’s and surrounding churches, before climbing further up to the bell chamber to set up my recording equipment.

As I have done this project it has once again confirmed how our soundscape reflects  our changing times.  Very rarely now are the sounds of our shopping experience related to the actual trade that any shop represents.  These days, the predominant sounds are the schizophonic sounds of the radio, the 50Hz hum of electrical appliances and the sounds of commerce supplied by a beeping cash register.  Even as I was up in the bell tower, it was apparent that the quintessentially English sound of peeling bells is also dying out as the pool of available bell ringers diminishes.

5 out of 6

5 out of 6

sixAmps

The Feonic audio drivers that will be put on the shop windows in order to produce the sound for the installation are all mono.  However, for those shops that have sufficicent window space, my plan is to pair the drivers in order to produce a stereo image.  In order to accomplish this I have purchased a number of extra stereo amplifiers, and it is these that I have been testing today.  (I have opted to use the new TA2020 class T digital amplifier which has been getting very good reviews).  Of the six that I was running tests on only five passed my quality control, and so one needs to be returned and its replacement can be tested along with the rest of my amps when they arrive.

sonic equivalence

sonic equivalence

whirlpool

I think, the hardest shop to forge a sonic connection with has been the High Street’s furniture store. Nothing is made at the shop, and the majority of what they do sell makes too subtle a sound to work in the context of this installation.  The shop, however, does a sideline in decorative objects, such as humorous signs and 1950′s-type ornaments, a lot of which do relate more easily to the acoustic world.  So, I have reached a compromise… in that I have agreed with the shop’s owners to create sound canvas based on a window display that focuses on those objects that in themselves suggest sounds.  In a sense then, they are creating the score through the placement of their objects, so all I have to do now is produce something sonically equivalent.

different perspectives

different perspectives

diamonds-2

If my work as an artist has any point at all, it is to encourage people to think differently about sound and its relationship to the world about them, and I try to keep this as a focus in the presentation of everything that I do.  What is particularly gratifiying is when I also have the opportunity to do this as part of my creative process as I collaborate with others in developing the work.

Related to this is my work with the staff at Andrea Antoniou’s who have been collating a list of sounds that they and their customers think sum up their hairdressing experience.  Today, I went in to record them.

Over the course of this project, I have been regularly going into many of the shops along the High Street to keep them up to date with my progress and Tony, the proprietor of this shop has been especially enthusiastic, encouraging his staff to think about what they do from an acoustic perspective.

sounds working

sounds working

autowash-2

Had an interesting afternoon with the staff of Autowash on Sittingbourne High Street trying out all their stock and recording the resulting sounds.  From vacuum cleaners to washing machines; from toasters to oven fans, this was one shop where it was not difficult to find sounds that connected to the shop’s trade.  Special attention was paid to getting the sounds just right as the staff could see that the recorded sounds demonstrated the quality of their appliances in working mode, as opposed to convention visual display which simply shows how they look when unplugged.

still testing

still testing

blackMosaic

I have had my Sansa Clip mp3 players continuously playing some test audio for eight days now – the length of the Streetwaves installation at the end of July.  And, after the eight days there is a maximum difference in synchronisation of sixteen seconds between the slowest and the fastest players – so, not bad.  Within this range, there are groups of players that are in time with each other, so this is also useful to know for my planning, as I will put these players closer to each other when they are positioned along the High Street for the installation.

daily bread

daily bread

rolls

Up early (again!) this morning, this time to join the bakers making their daily produce for sale later on that day.  I caught up with them on the late morning shift (beginning at 6am) and recorded the last two batches.  As a keen bread maker myself it was interesting to see how the process was achieved on a commercial scale, and I recorded both the hand and machine work.  Simon, the chief baker, is another keen supporter of the project and so was very generous with his time in helping me get all the recordings I needed.  Now, all I need to do is edit them….

juxtapositions

juxtapositions

twoCircles

As I have been talking with the various shop owners regarding the installation I have noticed my ideas for the presentation of the content becoming more fixed.  As I have said earlier before in the blog, my thinking has been that there will be a daytime as well as an evening version of the work, with the sounds being more related to the actual shops during the day – so the Sun Tanning Parlour will have its own sounds broadcasting at various times of the day, as will, for example, the book shop, and so on.  In the evening though, the installation’s  sounds wil become more mixed up with every shop window broadcasting at some point all of the sounds relating to all of the different retailers, and interspersed with these sounds will be recomposed segments of my recordings with the church choir.  The more I think about it, the more I like this juxtaposition of the religious and the commercial as it brings up all sorts of interesting connections and accompanying thoughts.  I might need to revisit the choir though to do some more recording as I’ll need a lot of material for this plan to work well.

acoustic connections

acoustic connections

methodist

It has been interesting discussing possible sounds for the installation with the computer shop and also the radio & television shop in the sense that the sounds that we have decided to use are older sounds, which although haven’t quite disappeared from our soundscape do belong to technology that was more popular in years gone past.  Unlike today’s ‘silent workers’, the technology of yesterday had its own sounds and the acoustic connection still continues….

trendy

trendy

hangers\

Spent an amusing afternoon working with Ada, the proprietor of the clothes outlet, trying to find the right sounds to represent her trade.  We began with her drawing a blank as to which sounds could be connected with the shop and its contents, but in the end we had quite a large collection of sounds, ranging from zips, jangling bangles, plastic wrapping, velcro, hairspray aerosols, clothes hangers and changing-room curtains.  Enough to be getting on with….

thematic

thematic

organPedals

This afternoon I hope to go into town in order to give one of the choir members a CD recording of how I have been working with my recordings of their rehearsal from a couple of weeks ago.  I’ve got a lot of good material from that session, in terms of both quality and quantity, and am reassessing how I might use these sounds within the larger composition.  It might be, for example, that I can use the choir’s sounds as the main thematic material to underpin all my other sounds… not sure yet.  Certainly the sounds are beautiful, atmospheric and relaxing and so they would contrast with some of the other shorter sounds representing the various trades along the street.

sound thinking

sound thinking

stadium-1

I have been speaking more with some of the shop owners with regards to choosing those sounds that best represent their trades, and have been delighted with how seriously the different retailers have taken on this challenge.  Some, as with the Autowash shop, are discussing this amongst their staff, whilst others, such as Stadium, have also made the connection with their customers and other community groups whom they support.  In the latter case, I have been given the contact details of the Sittingbourne Lions sports group so they can be involved in my sound collection.

replacement

replacement

clip

My replacement mp3 player arrived today, and thankfully this is running at the same speed as my other 19 players.  Actually, I am quite impressed with how well all thge players are keeping in time with each other.  The upshot is that I may well now be able to incorporate spatialisation effects into the installation – only really possible when everything runs in sync.

sync

sync

sync

Well, a complete weather change today, and what with more rain forecast over the weekend, I am glad that I got my insects yesterday!  Today I have been working indoors….

Now that all my mp3 players have arrived I decided to spend the day seeing if I could sync them up to see if they can play at near enough the same sample rate.  Out of the twenty players, only one was adrift – losing just over a minute every hour in comparison.  Interestingly, this was the first player that I had received (with the other nineteen following later) and so I wonder if it was from a different (faulty) batch?  Annoyingly, it does mean that all the tests I initially ran on it probably now don’t amount to much.  Anyway, I have organised for this one to be returned and hopefully its replacement will run in sync with the others.

The other players are not sample accurate in the sense that they do not conform to real time (as I thought would be the case).  They are, however, all inaccurate by the same amount, which is all I need for this installation.

more wildlife

more wildlife

busyBs-2

My plan is that the streetwaves audio score will be made up from sounds that are either from that part of the High Street where the installation will be situated, or will be inspired by the shops themselves.  The idea is that when passers-by hear the sounds they will be able to recognise them and (eventually) make a connection with the surroundings.  Of course, what I am finding is that some shops are easier to make sonic connections with than others, especially if the trade appears not to have any immediately obvious associated sounds.  A case in point is BusyB’s, the carpet shop.

So, this morning I took advantage of the still weather  to record buzzing insects along the street.  The best place for such recordings was the pathway leading to the Methodist Church which has enough flowers to attract various types of bees.  Although this area is slightly off the street and is therefore quite secluded there was still quite a bit of traffic noise from the ring road (that is compared to the very quiet sounds that the insects were making); however, with the assistance of a parabolic microphone and much patience I think I have now got enough buzzes to work with.

lovebirds

lovebirds

loveBirds

Went in, first thing, whilst the shops along the High street were quiet so that I could have a chat with some of  the retailers.  My first visit was to the pet shop as I also wanted to record some of the animals at the back of the premises before it became busy with customers.  In the end, I had about half an hour of the shop being quiet and so I was able to get everything done that I wanted.

After that, one of my visits included the recently opened wedding shop across the street, as they weren’t there whenever I made my initial visits to the various shops to interest them in my proposed installation.  As with the other retailers, they agreed to come on board.  The shop has two big bay windows so that means that streewaves now has another two audio sources.

encounter

encounter

antonios

I am now beginning to work on the first of my waves.  (These will be the sound phrases, or building blocks, that will form the body of the installation).  My thinking is that each wave will fade in to begin and then similarly end by fading out – the idea being that the sound should creep up upon the listener, thus gradually effecting the perception of their surroundings.  As a composition therefore, streetwaves will be less about assuming the identity of a musical composition whereby the listener changes one’s focus to listen and concentrate on the work for the lenght of the work, but rather will play with the idea of continually changing ones perception of the street.

I imagine a passer-by, for example, going about their business subconsciously aware of the street’s soundscape and then becoming mindful of sonic changes happing around them as one of my waves begins.  At this point, the idea is that the listener will consciously tune-in to the changing sounds and question what they are hearing, before the sounds fade away again leaving the listener with the normal street ambience.  I envisage that the installation will utilise a succession of different waves interspersed throughout the day inspiring similar listening experiences.

choir

choir

stainedGlass

Tonight I recorded the church choir of St Michael’s as they rehearsed in a room underneath the tower  (giving the recording a studio- like quality).  They sung through the hymns for the next service and then rehearsed some other compositions in preparation for Sunday and the following sung eucharist.  I took the opportunity to talk with the choir members about my ideas for the installation and explained how I envisaged working with their sounds.  I said that when I had something created then I would transfer it to a CD so they could listen in their own time.  This evening I also met with one of the church’s bell ringers and asked if it could be possible to also record the bells.  I am to find out soon when that might be possible.

feonic delivery

feonic delivery

feonics

Took delivery of sixteen FeONIC F4 audio drivers this morning.  Their dimensions are smaller than I expected, which is not a bad thing.  Combined with my Omnivox supply,  I now have twenty-six separate audio sources.  My original intention was to use sixteen, but this number was influenced by my budget.   (Each FeONIC device is around £150).  Now though, I have hopefully enough to make an impressionable sound on the street – as long as all the different windows resonate in a roughly similar manner!

dawn rising

dawn rising

churchTower

Another early morning visit – this time at 4am – in order to record the birds in the trees around the church – another one of my Wave soundtracks.  It’s a bank holiday Monday today, and so I also chose this time in the belief that there would be no delivery lorries disturbing my quiet morning soundscape.

more cutting

more cutting

shoeRepairs

On this visit, I worked with David from the Shoe Repairs and Key Cutting Shop – going round his many machines and recording them all individually.  Understandably, David hadn’t really listened to them all before in this sort of concentrated way, and so I think it was interesting for the two of us.  As with yesterday’s recording at ‘Smiffy’s’ I said I would return for something for him to listen to in a week or two.

cutting

cutting

smiffys

Went to ‘Smiffy’s’ (the barbers) to record the sounds for one of my ‘Waves’.  On a previous visit, we had spoken about the idea of recording his various hair-cutting implements and had even discussed recording him cutting my own hair; and, that’s what we did!  I think it was the most interesting hair cut I have had in a while, with me holding a microphone to my head as the different cutters were used.  I said I would have a play with the sounds and see what I could come with, composition wise, and then return with something for the staff to listen to and pass judgement on.

am & pm

am & pm

slinders

Exactly how and when the installation will sound during the day will be determined with the various shop retailers when my ordered equipment eventually arrives.  For the moment, I am assuming that some shops will want to take advantage of the possibility of the installation sounding during the day in order to attract customers, whilst some of the smaller shops may prefer the choice of a quiet shop environment during opening hours.  For this reason I am considering having a daytime version of the installation as well as an evening version for when the shops are closed.

different waves

different waves

cartoon

I have been contemplating exactly how I might work with the sounds for this installation, and have been thinking that, in keeping with my installation title, I could create a number of ‘waves’ – one-minute(ish) sonic vignettes and each related to a different aspect of the street – that I could then mix together and have fade in and out on the high street.  Each wave would have a number of different versions created for multi-channel playback, allowing the sounds to dance across the street before disappearing into the street’s natural quiet ambience before the next ‘wave’ starts.

recording plans

recording plans

petshop

This afternoon I brought in a typed out description of my plans (so far) for my Streetwaves installation together with a proposed schedule for all the various shops.  I also spoke with some of the proprietors about ideas connected with how they might choose to increase their involvement with the project as the installation is created.  The plan is that as the installation will use sounds that connect with the street’s shops, I will create these in collaboration with the various shop managers, staff and customers.  For example, I talked with Antonio’s, the hairdressers, about them chatting with their customers – whilst they were attending to their hair – about their favourite sounds and constructing an acoustic identity from those sounds; and also spoke with the pet shop about the possibility of working with some of their customers who might be willing to let me record their pets.

empty shops

empty shops

trendy-1

This afternoon I met up with the Jill the Regeneration Officer to walk the length of my proposed installation and to show her how I thought it would work.  I had noted that there were several empty premises along the street and so I pointed out which ones could be useful to have access to for my sound installation.  Jill took note of these so that she could pass on the contacts for the various locations.  With regards to the previous week’s retailers association meeting, she said that those present had been very enthusiastic about my project ideas and I had been invited to come along and speak at the next one.

support

support

rulerPen

Had a go at making something that could support one of my omnivox audio drivers in order that it can work in a vertical position without damaging the unit.  I figured that as long as the weight was supported then there would be no additional strain on the driver.  What I ended up constructing was fairly simple with my basic woodworking skills, but the idea works.  So now I have to see which shop windows would accommodate such a structure, and which ones I will need to use the F4s on (which can simply just be stuck to the windows directly.)

feonics

feonics

eon

Ordered sixteen F4 FeONIC audio drivers today.  The Hull-based company have been really patient with all my questions relating to their technology, and so I hope their patience has paid off with today’s order.  Annoyingly, they are no longer producing the F110 amplifiers; however, with my earlier bulk purchase of the Omnivox.  I have ten that I could use (if in the end I don’t use my Omnivox supply).  Probably I will purchase some other appropriate amps, or have them made up for me.

saturday return

saturday return

ants

This Saturday afternoon there was no band rehearsing in the pub up the road and so the street had the quiet ambience I am hoping for on the Saturday of my launch.  I went to the pub and spoke with the manager and told him about the installation and enquired about booking their function room.  Rather than me simply booking the function room for the whole of the evening (and the pub losing out on a potential evening’s takings from a party booking) the manager kindly agreed to make a note in his diary to ask any booking to set up quietly during the the times of the installation.

more clips

more clips

lionGrave

Ordered a further nineteen Sansa Clip MP3 players.  Although my tests have shown that the device doesn’t run exactly to sample rate, I have noticed that it is nonetheless consistent, and so (in theory at least) I can work with that – making amendments in the post-production side of my composing.

dawn recordings

dawn recordings

treeGrate

Arose early and went into Sittingbourne for about 5am – a little late for the dawn chorus at this time of year: truth be told – nevertheless, an interesting time for watching the street wake up.  I managed to get some recordings of the birds in the trees around St Michael’s Church before the street’s early morning deliveries began.  These mostly involve a large lorry or van arriving on the street and then goods loaded onto a series of trolleys which are then dragged full to the shop in question and then empty back to the delivery vehicle.  At that time of the morning, with no other sound around, it’s quite a dramatic sound!  Not enough bird recordings though, and so I will return another morning.

early prototype

early prototype

omnivox

Found another source for a supply of an early FeONIC prototype.  Called the Omnivox, as far as I can tell it appears to be the earliest publicly released version of the FeONIC technology.  Usefully, it not only uses but also comes with the same (F110) amplifier as the current models – so even if they don’t perform well then the amplifiers will still be useful.  I got a very good price for a bulk purchase of their remaining Omnivox kits (amplifiers plus audio drivers) and so it will be a saving whatever the outcome.  As these ‘Omnivox’ drivers are built to work horizontally, I will have to construct a supporting device that will convert them for vertical use (for my shop windows).

traders’ meeting

traders’ meeting

hawaiianT-1

Today I made contact with Jill, the Regeneration Officer at Swale Borough Council, and discovered that not only was there a street retailers association but it was also meeting that evening, so I said that I would prepare a short description of the project for them to minute and discuss.  Of course, by this stage, I have met nearly all the traders in the street; however, I saw this as an opportunity for the project to be presented ‘officially’.  Jill said that she would let me know how my project information was received.

testing testing

testing testing

vol

This morning I began testing my newly arrived ‘Sansa Clip’ audio player.  It is impressively small and quite well built, but I was more interested in its capability of playing exactly at sample rate.  It seemed to be more accurate at playing 48kHz files rather than 44.1kHz, with the the best timing appearing to be for 128bps/48kHz – according to my tests running about 5.3 seconds slow for every hour.  This needn’t be a problem if ‘Sansa Clips’ in general all run slow by the same (or even a similar) amount….  Actually, for the budget I have to work with, there appear to be very few alternatives, and so I think I will go with the ‘Clip’ and create the installation in a way that incorporates this.

eucharist

eucharist

crissCross

I had previously noticed on one of my previous visits that St Michael’s Church, at the bottom of Sittingbourne’s High Street, has an occasional sung Eucharist and one was advertised for this evening, and so I thought I would go along and experience the occasion.  The service was a very quiet affair with an organist and choir that almost outnumbered the evening’s congregation.  I was glad to recognise one of the choir members as being one of the shopkeepers involved in my project and so I was glad to have a natural contact to be able to follow up, as I would certainly like to reference the church in my installation’s sounds.

saturday spy

saturday spy

barrows

Visited Sittingbourne this afternoon as I wanted to see what the High Street was like on a Saturday (as this is the day that we think the installation will be launched).  As predicted it was very quiet, in terms of there being very few people around; however, as I walked up the street there was the sound of a rock band rehearsing or possibly sound checking for an evening event.  (It was 4pm – a typical time for a sound check).  The music was coming from the upstairs of one of the pubs in the town, which although was outside of the area in which I was planning to have my sound installation, the band’s music was very audible.  I went into the pub and asked one of the bar staff whether the pub had bands every week and was told that wasn’t the case – it was just that the band upstairs were preparing for a party booking that evening.

getting started

getting started

churchDoor

Today I met the Swale Arts Officer as well as the arts producer for the whole of the Encounter programme (through which Streetwaves is funded).  We agreed a rough schedule for the project and I was able to speak with them about the positive feedback I had had from the shopkeepers in the part of Sittingbourne High Street that I have chosen for the installation to be placed.  Without exception, they have all been very enthusiastic about the idea of the installation which, I think, says a lot for the good will of the traders in this town.

After the meeting I visited many of the shop keepers again to let them know the dates that the installation would probably run at the end of July and also that we had considered having some sort of launch.  The general consensus was that the best day for such an event would be a Saturday afternoon, when that part of the town is not only fairly quiet in terms of foot-fall, but is also closed to traffic.

audio players

audio players

blueTile-2

After quite a bit of research looking for possible adequate MP3 players to play the audio for my installation, I have decided to go for SanDisk’s Sansa Clip model.  Apparently, this can play whilst in charging mode, which is useful for me as I will need my players to run continuously for 8 days.  They also have a 15 hour battery life which means that there will be plenty of time to synchronise them before installing them into the different shops.  I found a cheap supplier and ordered my first one.

revisit

revisit

star

Went into Sittingbourne this afternoon – to the lower part of the High Street where my Streetwaves installation is planned to take place.  It’s a quiet end of town with the majority of the shops being local independent traders.  I visited them all, for the second time, to let them know that I had just heard that my proposed installation had been accepted for the Encounter arts programme and therefore would be going ahead.  Thankfully everyone that I spoke with was still enthusiastic about the project, and so I said I would be in contact again once I had agreed the dates that the project would run.

streetwaves

streetwaves

streetwaves

Streetwaves is a new ambient sound installation for Sittingbourne High Street in Kent and is planned to run during the last week of July 2011.  Using a recent advance in music technology that will allow the street’s shop windows to also act as loudspeakers, the sound installation will take the form of a multi-channel audio composition that will emanate from select shop windows towards the lower end of the High Street.  The installation will fill the street with gentle sounds at different times of the day, taking shoppers by surprise as the composition fades in and out of the natural street ambience, creating an ever-changing sonic experience that aims to delight passers-by and enhance their connection to their surroundings.

The project is one of six commissions for the Encounter programme – produced by NKLAAP (North Kent Local Authority Arts Partnership), a local authority arts partnership incorporating Medway Council and the boroughs of Gravesham and Swale.  It is funded by NKLAAP, Kent County Council and Arts Council England.

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