This marks the first in a series of posts delving into the process of making It Comes In Waves, an immersive theatre production conceived by bluemouth inc., written by Jordan Tannahill with bluemouth inc., directed by Jennifer Tarver, and presented by Necessary Angel, bluemouth inc. and PANAMANIA (presented by CIBC) on Toronto Island as part of the 2015 Toronto Pan Am Games.
With my days as a Toronto Island theatre performer over for the season, I’ve chosen to begin by posting some music created specifically for the show. Phantom Love first emerged from writing by Lucy Simic (bluemouth inc.) and a guitar riff by Stephen O’Connell (bluemouth inc.) — both generated during initial development stages of the show. I fleshed out the music and lyrics, and then recorded and produced the track which was subsequently given some nostalgia-inducing ‘vinyl treatment’. During the performances (in the ‘Fireplace Room’ at the Gibraltar Point Centre for the Arts), the music was diffused through an 8-channel surround-sound playback system placed around the periphery of the room. Playback began through two monitors located directly behind a vintage Califone portable turntable — which incidentally served as a fully-functional prop throughout the show. This effectively (though not entirely precisely) localizes the perceived source of the music, creating an impression that the music is emanating from the record player, until it gradually begins to rotate through the entire speaker system at a speed of 33 rotations per minute. The music accompanies choreography performed by Stephen and Lucy, which also travels around the room.
As rumours begin to spread about the approach of summer, the University of Toronto’s Digital Dramaturgy Lab (DDL) has been presenting Stare. Print. Blue. (Voyeuring the apparatus) — a durational and intermedial performance environment — over three days in the ‘Pleasure Room’ at Digifest Toronto 2015. Stare. Print. Blue. is a meditative provocation of slowness in an age of rapidly intensifying acceleration. As an immersive and technologically mediated environment, it seeks to challenge the endurance capabilities of a single performer by forcing concentration on absolute slowness of movement, while focusing the viewer’s attention on experiences of time as mediated by and through digital technology.
My soundscape design focused specifically on creating an immersive and meditative listening space with a dual function — first, as means of encouraging a meditative experiencing of ‘slowness’ within viewer perception, and second, as a audio-temporal framework capable of helping the solo performer maintain both the slow pacing of their physical movements and their mental focus for the duration of their experience within the installation space.
The ‘DDL@Digifest’ collaborative team includes Antje Budde, Nazli Ahktari, Monty Martin, Michael Reinhart, William J Mackwood, Karyn McCallum, Alfred Renaud, Don Sinclair, and (myself) Richard Windeyer.
A short history of the footstep in video game sound design, courtesy of Damian Kastbauer at LOST CHOCOLATE LAB. Nicely done!
Funny how it’s seemingly easier to project oneself into a 2-dimensional image experience when we have footsteps to connect us sensorially. Also interesting to consider how the initially crude sonics and synchronization of the footsteps (a consequence of technological limitation), parallels the history of footsteps in early silent and (later) ‘talking’ cinema. Here, technological limitation encourages the use of less realistic and more abstracted sounds as footsteps – think woodblocks, coconut shells, or plucked strings ‘mickey mousing’ to the picture from the movie house orchestra ‘pit’ – which test and pull at the connective tissue between sound and image in a way that we haven’t really had since the maturation of sound in cinema.