Situated Soundscapes: Redefining Media Art and the Urban Experience + Interview, Statement, Artwork


  • Natasa Paterson
  • Fionnuala Conway


The rise of GPS (Global Positioning System) enabled smartphones, such as the iPhone and Google Android mobile operating system, together with the highbandwidth network access afforded by third generation (3G) networks, has
meant the use of these devices progressing beyond their social networking and communication purposes to become creative tools employed in the art domain and for entertainment experiences. Smartphones are able to augment real world spaces by introducing a digital narrative that can alter one’s experience of a space, allowing it to reveal details and experiences in a previously unseen manner, thereby providing a rich and new encounter of this new world. A number of applications currently exist that augment space using visual means, however, there are still only a limited number that use audio. This technology allows for new ways to experience the static audio installation, previously experienced in the studio or gallery. It is now possible to experience dynamic and interactive soundscapes, influenced by one’s movements, location and environmental stimuli. Hence the experience is aural and unencumbered, creating an automated embodied encounter where one becomes the performer and the space an interactive soundscape. This paper presents the concept of interactive soundscapes and looks at a methodology for the use of mobile technology that challenges the tendency to simply extend traditional media onto the mobile sphere. Instead, location technology and the urban space can be viewed as an artistic canvas on which sound artists, musicians and composers can test the classical constraints of design, ruled so long by the physics of space, time, and material in order to experiment with new forms of art.