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Composing Places: Practices and Potentials of Sound Mapping and Locative Audio


Composing Places: Practices and Potentials of Sound Mapping and Locative Audio

Thulin, Samuel (2014) Composing Places: Practices and Potentials of Sound Mapping and Locative Audio. PhD thesis, Concordia University.

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Since the early 2000s, advances in mobile, networked, and locative technology have made the possibilities for combining sounds and places more numerous than ever before. This research-creation dissertation asks how people participate in creating and experiencing relationships between sounds and places via mobile technology. Working across the fields of media studies, mobilities research, sound studies and soundscape studies, this dissertation aims to contribute a focus on sound to the growing body of work examining locative media and mapping, while also contributing a focus on mobility and place to sound studies research. Through a research-creation project delving into sound mapping (the practice of attaching sound recordings to online maps, accessible regardless of the user’s location) and locative audio (the practice of attaching audio to particular locations to be listened to by a user in-situ on a mobile device), I examine the potential of ‘composition’ for understanding and challenging current mobile sound practices. Composition, as a concept and practice involving relationality and the dynamics of process and product, serves to open up the ways in which places and sounds may come together.

For this project, I created three musical compositions using only recordings found on online platforms with sound mapping components. I also created two interactive, locative audio compositions situated in the neighbourhood of Verdun, Montreal, which led to twenty-four recordings of project participants engaging with the works. I corresponded with sound map contributors through e-mail, and I interviewed locative audio participants in-person. Putting these initiatives into dialogue with other projects, historical precedents, approaches to working with sound, and theorizations of locative media and mapping, I examine both the norms and the potential of current technologies and practices. I argue that the way place and sound come together through sound mapping and locative audio involves a continual interplay between: 1) maintaining established practices and existing bonds; and 2) attempting to forge new bonds and new ways of approaching places. Continued exploration and experimentation via composition contributes to understanding this interplay, shedding light on how people engage with places through mobile technology.

Divisions:Concordia University > Faculty of Arts and Science > Communication Studies
Item Type:Thesis (PhD)
Authors:Thulin, Samuel
Institution:Concordia University
Degree Name:Ph. D.
Date:November 2014
Thesis Supervisor(s):Sawchuk, Kim
Keywords:sound mapping, locative audio, mobilities, soundscape, locative media, mobile media, mobile technology, place, composition, sound recording, GPS, Verdun, Montreal
ID Code:979179
Deposited On:16 Jul 2015 12:48
Last Modified:04 Apr 2019 17:39
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