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Paradigms

Posted By tom On August 26, 2012 @ 9:55 am In these are not books | No Comments

More from the book. Actually, from a paper that draws on chapter one, and will probably sit somewhere across three chapters:

For the last decade, [1] Duncan Speakman has been developing a form for immersive narrative he calls the subtlemob – films without cameras, alternate worlds and poetic layers in the everyday. The antithesis of a flashmob, Speakman’s work asks participants to slow down, to take time out of their day and experience a fragment of participatory story, sometimes collectively, sometimes alone, mediated through sound, imagination and time.

Speakman’s early work included ‘sounds from above the ground’, commissioned by the Arnolfini gallery in Bristol. The walk mixed text, performance and live sound to create a site-responsive work that explored the relationship between sound and memory. Within a small group each participant followed a lone walker through the city streets, his internal monologue transmitted to their headphones. As the walk progressed, the transmitted noise of the city was remixed live around them.

From Speakman’s summary of the piece:
“In the performance the audience are given stereo wireless receivers and follow me through the city streets. I have a microphone on my chest and my backpack contains a laptop computer and stereo UHF audio transmitter. As we walk the audience listens through my ears as I speak memories and place marks in the city, while the laptop processes and remixes the surrounding ambience.”[1]

Drawing on technologically mediated displacement as a method by which to engage his ‘reader’, their walk through the city induced a sustained dislocation from the observed ‘real’ as mediated through sound.

The later subtlemob form asks participants to download a pre-recorded mp3 file to a personal player, which imparts instruction, voiceover and soundtrack simultaneously during the experience. Versions of his practice have included paired files, in order that half of the participating audience are observing the other, who in turn are ‘cued’ by the first set, and with ‘our broken voice’, a narrative about trust and suspicion in public spaces, a Ballardian fiction of events in an unnamed city, the audience play out the moments leading up to the event that triggers the experience.

Speakman’s work draws on conventional narrative devices – the narrator; first, second and third person perspective; plotted events and flashback – however doing so in a manner aligned to N Katherine Hayles’ materially specific design. Our relationship with sound as a principal medium alters the reader’s affective space, positioning them, as one participant expresses it, “within a novel that’s happening right now”.

[1] http://duncanspeakman.net/?p=162


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[1] Duncan Speakman: http://productofcircumstance.com/

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