Trans:space

Glimpsing at the outside world with sound

My walk to work is a mix of rural and urban environments. I thought this might be a nice “experiment” and introduction to the way images are turned into sound with The vOICe (http://www.seeingwithsound.com). The vOICe takes an image and scans it from left-to-right, turning the pixels into frequencies, perceived as changes in pitch that sweep from the left to the right. I set the scanning speed at two seconds, so the first image is taken and turned into a two second long sound. Then the second and third images are also turned into sound.

Here are two sound recordings, both made of three views (images) using The vOICe to look outside while walking. Each recording is six seconds long (three images, two seconds each). Use headphones!

Listen to each, perhaps a couple of times, and form your own impression of what each sound might represent. Then, read my questions in the first comment below and answer with a following comment. Don’t peek until you first get your own impression!

vOICeOA

vOICeON

Thanks for listening (and seeing),

Michael

28 Responses to “Glimpsing at the outside world with sound”

  1. Michael Proulx Says:

    1. What was your initial impression?
    2. What did you think the sounds might correspond to visually?
    3. Which sound do you prefer, VOICEOA or VOICEON? Why?
    4. I recorded these during my walk to work, which is part “urban” with man-made structures and part “rural” with just plants and open fields. Which one do you think is recorded in an urban area and which in a rural area? Why?

    Let me know in the comments below. I will blog later with the images that correspond to the sounds!

  2. Jane Pitt Says:

    1. The first sound set was bright with subtle layers, the second sound set seemed flatter and denser.
    2. OA was a scape with alot of curly sounding shapes that might be leaves or natural forms ON felt like a building or wall
    3. I like them both for their diverse qualities though OA was a little more stimulating.
    4. OA = ‘rural’ ON = ‘urban’ see no.2

  3. Pranav Lal Says:

    Warning: I am a user of the vOICe and vision without context is difficult at the best of times.
    1. What was your initial impression?
    PL] You should have recorded the sounds at the regular setting. Still, the slower speed helps interpret sound without headphones.
    2. What did you think the sounds might correspond to visually?
    PL] The vOICe OA sound has plants and some long structures which may be trees. I am quite sure that there are leaves towards the right of the image. They are however better lit. Mind you, for all I know, you could have photographed railings which are curved.
    The vOICe ON sound is just three horizontal strips.

    I cannot say more than that.
    3. Which sound do you prefer, VOICEOA or VOICEON? Why?
    PL] No preference. Information is being conveyed. There is almost an echo in vOICe ON and I wonder how you got that.
    4. I recorded these during my walk to work, which is part “urban” with man-made structures and part “rural” with just plants and open fields. Which one
    do you think is recorded in an urban area and which in a rural area? Why?
    PL] Already answered while responding to question two.

  4. transspace_jane Says:

    Interesting to read Pranav’s responses about context, I realise my sighted person imagination had jumped to conclusions of context using Michael’s written clues or descriptions of ‘urban’ ‘rural’ in Q4 and that these will have affected my responses. It would be interesting, for me as a vOICe learner, to repeat the exercise with different sounds and no (con)textual clues.. what do you think Michael & Pranav?

  5. Michael Proulx Says:

    Pranav taps into a fundamental aspect of perception: We never just access the raw sensory input. The brain makes a guess about what is there, and combines it with the input to create our experience. Have you ever thought your heard the voice of a friend in a crowded place, and it turns out they were nowhere near there? That is part of the creative process of perception — combining expectations with the sensory information, and sometimes getting it wrong.

    So, as Pranav points out, knowing which is urban and which is rural in advance would be an important contextual cue to identifying what is present. This is the same in vision, though sometimes it takes listening to images to understand what normally happens in the blink of any eye.

  6. Sian Thomas Says:

    I found the first voice OA to be denser and as such presumed this was urban. I prefer the voiceON where I found the tone less disturbing. Beyond that I have absolutely no idea what the objects in the vision might be.

  7. Michael Proulx Says:

    Interesting, Sian! I will wait just a little while longer before posting and describing the images that gave rise to the sounds. ~ Michael

  8. julia riddiough Says:

    1. What was your initial impression?
    hard edges, contrasting, cavernous, rippling, undulating and dark,
    2. What did you think the sounds might correspond to visually?
    extremely hard to say and would be a wild guess as I have no frame of reference at all to peg this on!
    3. Which sound do you prefer, VOICEOA or VOICEON? Why?
    2nd VOICEON as this seemed slower and more percussive and easier to assimilate
    4. I recorded these during my walk to work, which is part “urban” with man-made structures and part “rural” with just plants and open fields. Which one do you think is recorded in an urban area and which in a rural area? Why?
    First Urban and Second Rural? It seemed that the first was a harder edge and the second rippled?
    Very difficult to comment when their are no signals to read/hear/see/smell/touch
    Fascinating!
    Julia

  9. Michael Proulx Says:

    Thank you Julia! I am interested in how we might have natural connections between the senses and our categories in the world. Are edges more representative of the built environment, and ripples in nature? Can we see, hear, and feel them in the same ways?
    ~ Michael

  10. Mike Snarr Says:

    As one who has very limited experience of using the vOICe, and found it a not very pleasurable experience, his was very interesting. I listened to the sounds then read the questions ten read the comments then listened to the sounds some more.

    1) Initial impressions were that both were very linear.
    2) Haven’t a clue
    3) I preferred vOICeOA it’s more wibbly wobbly.
    4) Initially I would have said that vOICeOA was rural. I think of myself as someone who prefers the rural to the built environment and OA appealed to me more because of it’s wibbly wobblyness this more reflects (my perception of) the randomness of the natural environment, I was in agreement with Pranav about plants and leaves. However after reading back over the comments and your descriptions of the views “just plants and open fields “ I would say that ON is rural. I remember when using vOICe that open landscapes with few features other then a dominant horizon can produce very uninteresting linear results.

  11. Amy Overbury Says:

    1. VoiceOA was very rhythmic, with a sort of rolling, soothing effect, while VoiceON was very metallic and harsh, for me it was quite unpleasant and offensive. I also got a sense of space and openness in OA while I found ON very claustrophic which created a sense of caginess.
    2. OA seemed like a sort of landscape with soft surfaces shapes such as hills. While ON seemed more corresponding to man-made structures, such as buildings, stairs, rails, etc.
    3. I found OA much more evocative and satisfying to listen to; but they’re both very interesting to engage with.
    4. I think that OA is the rural area and ON is the urban area, due to the conflicting soft and harsh nature of the recordings which would correspond to my preconceptions of those varying scapes.

  12. Michael Proulx Says:

    Thank you Mike and Amy! I like getting these initial responses, so I will hold off just a little longer for showing and describing the underlying images.

  13. Rebecca Henehan Says:

    1. OA seemed to have more change and levels to the sounds, whereas the ON seemed a constant pitch.
    2. OA reminded me of a busy road with traffic whizzing by. I have no idea for ON.
    3. I prefer OA as the pitch changed it made the sound more interesting.
    4. I think OA is the urban sound as I did relate it to the image of traffic. Therefore, the ON must be the rural sound but I couldn’t relate it to that when listening to it.

  14. Michael Proulx Says:

    Very interesting feedback, thank you!

  15. Giola Cassar Says:

    1. What was your initial impression? Both clips sounded very abstract
    2. What did you think the sounds might correspond to visually? Something metallic, I related it to cars and trains.
    3. Which sound do you prefer, VOICEOA or VOICEON? Why? Both seem quite familiar, however,
    4. I recorded these during my walk to work, which is part “urban” with man-made structures and part “rural” with just plants and open fields. Which one do you think is recorded in an urban area and which in a rural area? Why?VoiceOA – Rural, Voiceon: Urban Voiceon: Seems to have a softer elemetn to it
    Let me know in the comments below. I will blog later with the images that correspond to the sounds!

  16. Louise Francis Says:

    1. What was your initial impression? VOICEOA was harsh but interesting, VOICEON was softer but irritating
    2. What did you think the sounds might correspond to visually? Immediate response was urban (stop start) traffic and a train speeding through the countryside
    3. Which sound do you prefer, VOICEOA or VOICEON? Why? VOICEOA because it had different levels
    4. I recorded these during my walk to work, which is part “urban” with man-made structures and part “rural” with just plants and open fields. Which one do you think is recorded in an urban area and which in a rural area? Why? Hmmm, my immediate response is VOICEOA is urban and VOICEON is rural.

  17. Michael Proulx Says:

    Thanks, Louise. I found this comment in particular to be intriguing: “VOICEOA was harsh but interesting, VOICEON was softer but irritating” — I am curious about the combinations of harsh/interesting and softer/irritating!

  18. Mischa Says:

    I am a bit lost but I ‘see’
    OA – a rural landscape flat with a railway line running through the middle of it
    ON – a field with cows in it grazing

    Really liked doing this but….
    Didn’t like either sound #wouldntbuythe album

    M

  19. Michael Proulx Says:

    Thanks Mischa! Perhaps you would like this version better? :)

    http://www.janepitt.co.uk/trans-space/2014/02/23/duet-for-voice-and-tabla/

  20. Steve Moyes Says:

    1. They both made me think of water, OA sounded more like an enclosed space, ON more open. The first had a bit of human voice-like quality about it.
    2. OA made me think of people at an indoor swimming pool. ON gave me more of a sense of open space, with more natural light and few, if any, humans about.
    3. I prefer OA, because it’s a bit more melodic. ON sounds like something is missing.
    4. OA urban, and ON rural. OA gave more of an impression of sound bouncing aroung, as if it were between wall, or some other solid structure.

  21. Paul King Says:

    Q1: My first thought was of a UFO type sound as used in old alien movies.

    Q2: I thought it could be a bus journey.

    Q3: I prefer sound A.

    Q4: I think sound A is from a quiet bus journey. I think sound N is recorded in a busy built up city area, due to it’s high frequency and increasing fast pitches.

  22. Paul Peterson Says:

    1. What was your initial impression?

    I’m a bit of a fan of white noise and drones so my initial impression was that I wanted the sounds to last longer.

    2. What did you think the sounds might correspond to visually?

    A. a lake/pond. – B. an orange space hopper. – C cement

    3. Which sound do you prefer, VOICEOA or VOICEON? Why?

    I prefer ‘VOICEOA’, the higher frequencies in ‘VOICEON’ are a little aggressive. whereas with VOICEOA I could easily meditate too.
    4. I recorded these during my walk to work, which is part “urban” with man-made structures and part “rural” with just plants and open fields. Which one do you think is recorded in an urban area and which in a rural area? Why?

    I have only intuition and no factual backup and will say 1 is Rural and 3 is urban… 2 is the trick question as its an orange space hopper.

  23. imagespassages (cd) Says:

    1. What was your initial impression?
    1. Shrill and continuous sound interrupted with another circular sound track. Idea of interference.

    2. What did you think the sounds might correspond to visually?
    2.le the first one between sounds of insects to amplify and a stemming sound d one rings electric. Second leash more place in the imagination. So, I imagine that the sound comes from an effervessant medicine to throw in a glass of water.

    3. Which sound do you prefer, VOICEOA or VOICEON? Why?
    3. I prefer the second sound track(VOICEOA). It’s dismissals(cross-references) in passages of sound tracks stemming from science fiction film.

    4. I recorded these during my walk to work, which is part “urban” with man-made structures and part “rural” with just plants and open fields. Which one do you think is recorded in an urban area and which in a rural area? Why?
    4. May be the first sound comes from an urban area. The second of a rural zone.
    It was an interesting experimentation

  24. imagespassages (cd) Says:

    3. ps : I prefere VOICEON not VOICEA..

  25. Roy Says:

    1 – something alien, metallic, insect like, traffic, but odd

    2 – robot insects flying

    3 – I preferred the first one, if had more variation and the flow between left to right was slower, fluid.

    4 – I suspect the first was rural, but cannot be sure. Both are unusual and interesting.

  26. nicole Says:

    The first sound suggested a shape or an object. The second sound suggested something flatter.
    Thus pure guess work leads me to say 1 is urban 2 is rural.

  27. james worse Says:

    the first sound made me feel anxious, it reminded me of traffic noise.
    but the first sound had a lot more going on in it which makes me think it was actually a recoding from a rural environment – there could be bird song in there.

    I preferred the second sound, it felt rural – a warm day in open country, crackling of pylons, crickets.
    however, the uniformity of the sound suggests it might really be a busy roadside recording

  28. Michael Proulx Says:

    Thank you all for you responses — keep them coming!

    If you want to find out what the underlying images were, please go to the newer blog post: http://www.janepitt.co.uk/trans-space/2014/03/04/revealed/