About the {neo}sonic Sound Garden

{neo}sonic has partnered with Sonic Babylon to create an interactive Sound Garden growing with the stories and sounds of the local community.  The Sound Garden is installed permanently at the Mill Place Precinct, offering the community an exciting way to define itself through place, interaction and time. 

The intent of the Sound Garden is to surround the world with music, sounds, and stories, local and universal, ancient and of tomorrow, easily accessible on everyday mobile devices. Riding local Wi-Fi networks, the garden grows in selected spaces within a community, bringing the music, sounds, and stories of that locale's past and present into the future, and allowing networked visitors access to a world beyond the world they see. The garden hangs invisibly in the air and may be both heard and shaped by visitors on their Wi-Fi-enabled mobile devices when they visit or pass through. 

What software do visitors to a sound garden need? 

In order to hear and prune the garden, or to plant sounds of their own (.mp3 files), visitors must download the free Sonic Babylon application to their mobile device. The application for the {neo}sonic garden is available on the Sonic Babylon website; www.sonicbabylon.com  

What hardware do visitors to a sound garden need? 

Interacting with the garden requires a Wi-Fi enabled mobile device. There are Sonic Babylon applications for both Mac and Windows laptops, iPads, iPhone and iPod Touch, PDAs and select mobile phones. 

How does a sound garden work? 

As visitors move through the garden, the Sonic Babylon application tracks their position in the space.  Its 3D audio engine generates a real-time sound mix relative to the location of the planted sounds. 

How do visitors plant  sounds? 

Visitors may either select from existing sounds in the library, or upload sounds previously recorded or stored on their mobile device (.mp3 files only, 2.5 MB max). They then set the parameters for sound playback.  The application identifies their current position in the garden and sends this information, along with their sound file and playback parameters, to the server.  Their sound and its parameters are then saved and broadcast to all visitors currently in the garden.  (Please note that inappropriate material is not permitted and will be removed by the administrators.) 

How do visitors prune sounds already planted in the garden? 

Visitors may select a sound already in the garden and modify its parameters; for example, they may wish to make the sound softer, or have it repeat less frequently. The changes they make are sent to the server, which broadcasts them in real-time to the visitors in the garden. 

How does a Sound Garden impact on a community? 

Sound gardens allow local participants to hear and experience their everyday environment differently by enabling them to re-contextualize the memories and experiences of their community in sound; in effect, allowing them to apply a different filter through which they perceive their world.  Furthermore, sound gardens allow younger residents, who are already comfortable with new technology, to repurpose their digital devices in imaginative and creative ways and to participate on a fundamental community level. This ability to contribute to a collective creative project, in turn, increases ownership of the community by its inhabitants. 

What opportunities does a Sound Garden offer its presenters? 

Sound gardens offer presenters an opportunity to track local community involvement and ongoing participation by residents of the community.  Furthermore, gardens offer the ability to observe a self-organizing system, i.e., who plants, what is planted, and what kind of unified voice arises.  This opportunity to study structured participation and interaction also addresses issues of community voice and responsibility among people who normally know each other.  User surveys of this type of interaction indicate that the experience is greater than the sum of the aural components.  Additionally, they offer the ability to repurpose and recontextualize existing digital holdings with a minimum of technical investment. 

Who started the {neo}sonic Sound Garden?

The {neo}sonic Sound Garden has been installed as part of the NeoGeoGraphy project in Queensland, Australia. NeoGeoGraphy brings together creative practice and new technologies to explore and document how the Sunshine Coast community defines itself through place, interaction and time. Australian sound artist Leah Barclay conceived the {neo}sonic project as a way to engage the community in sound based art and technology and encourage the community to listen and interact with their everyday sonic environment. Leah Barclay is a multi-award winning artist who has been recognised internationally for her distinctive sonic language. She is committed to community cultural development and has directed and produced a range of ambitious regional projects throughout Australia, India, Korea, and Europe to wide acclaim. www.leahbarclay.com   

Who created Sonic Babylon?

Sonic Babylon is the creation of Nora Farrell and William Duckworth. Since the mid 1990's, they have been exploring the artistic potential of the Internet, focusing on community music making, generative expression, and extended composition. Their first net project, Cathedral (1997), includes an interactive website, custom-built virtual instruments, and an Internet band that offers listeners focused moments to play music in community live and online. For a decade the Cathedral Band maintained a regular touring schedule that took them to Japan and Australia twice, as well as to Galapagos, The Cutting Room, LaMaMa, and the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center in NYC. In 2001, Cathedral mounted a continuous 48-hour webcast, streaming 34 performances live from 5 continents. Farrell and Duckworth's most recent project, an iPod Opera based on the Orpheus myth, explored space, scale, memory, and echo through a 2-year unfolding of video podcasts, stage performances, and a public opera, iOrpheus, in the streets and promenades of the South Bank Parklands, Brisbane, Australia on 31 August 2007.

Where did the Sound Gardens software come from? 

Sonic Babylon is built on the Tactical Sound Garden [TSG] Toolkit, an open source software platform for cultivating public "sound gardens" within contemporary cities. It draws on the culture of urban community gardening to posit a participatory environment where new spatial practices for social interaction within technologically mediated environments can be explored and evaluated. Addressing the impact of mobile audio devices like the iPod, the project examines gradations of privacy and publicity within contemporary public space.
Visit the original TSG website here www.tacticalsoundgarden.net 

Watch the original Tactical Sound Garden [TSG] Preview