Week 3: Soundwalk Critique Reflection

The soundwalk critique in class today allowed me to take a step back from the piece I worked on and explore its successes, failures, and how it could be improved.  For the most part, people were satisfied with the level of instruction that we provided in our soundwalk.  Our choice to not have any papers and use narration to guide the listener was a good one.  This created less distraction and focused the user on the sounds and visuals we were trying to expresses.  During our process, we consciously took time to minimize our narration and say things in as few words as possible while still directing the user.  We ultimately tested this script on two people to make sure the little narration was enough.  The time we took to craft this narration certainly paid off.  The biggest flaw in our project was the pacing.  As I observed people completing our walk, I noticed the pace was different than the other sound walks we went on.  The first window seemed to be paced well, but from there on the sound skipped ahead.  Since people were trying to catch up, some of the subtle meanings were lost later in the soundwalk.  It is fascinating how the presence of others slows down the pace that people walk.  We user tested the soundwalk with one person, not a group, so the pacing was not aligned with the slower speed of a group of people.  I also thought the discussion on delivery with regard to our piece was interesting.  While some aspects of the walk were clear, others were not delivered properly and thus were lost on the listener.  For instance, in the first window, the juxtaposition of the bustling city with the image of the green forest was received by the rest of the class.  However, the sound associated with the hanging extension cords was less effective.  I also think that the sounds on our walk were more sporadic than others in the class which made the editing more difficult and resulted in a slightly choppy sounding piece.  In addition, I like the ambiguity and individuality that is associated with soundwalks.  I appreciate that we can all listen to the same soundwalk and feel different emotions as a result.  However, our soundwalk could have used a little more of a story or message that carried you though the piece.  Perhaps the overall meanings that we were trying to evoke were a bit too subtle and abstract.  In the end, people like different types of soundwalks.  Our fast paced, narrated soundwalk may no be for everyone but it was interesting and evoked unique meanings for others.  

Throughout this process, the collaboration was general successful.  We had a great team who were all engaged and present at every meeting.  We set a goal for every time we met, and did a great job sticking to those goals.  We also made use of our time apart when we could and divided up the work when possible.  One area where we could have improved was in the editing process.  The night before we met to edit it together, Caroline sorted all the recordings into a Audition session so it was ready to edit the next day.  As a result, the session was on her computer so Caroline ended up doing most of the edits in Audition while we watched, listened, and discussed what needed to be changed.  I ended up taking control of later edits which was great, but I think we could have done a better job overall of splitting up who was actually working with the computer while we were editing all together.