Project 4: Goldfarb Journey

You will now begin your journey.
Your journey within the York University Keele Campus.
Right now, you are outside the Goldfarb Centre for the Arts.

You will circle the interior of the building.
It doesn’t matter how fast or slow you go, or how long your route is.
Just find a way to get back to where you started.

No matter how many times you walk by this place, every journey made will be different.
Be attentive to your surroundings and you will see this difference.
Start walking now if you’re ready.

This is an experimental sound project that consists of 4 sound walk recordings done by randomly picked students at the York University Keele Campus. Students were given directions to walk around the interior of the Goldfarb building in any way they desired with the only limitation of ending their journey by returning to where they started from. Each student was given a sound recorder to follow their trails and were asked to map out the route they took with a drawn diagram.

This experiment was done to study the traffic and movement within the Goldfarb at different times of the day, the kinds of people there and the activities that happen there, the familiarity and meaning of the building for a wide array of students, and the way they interpret the instructions and how they decide to navigate around the building.

The results were quite interesting as the recording that was done during each different time of day reflected a unique atmosphere within the building.

  • In the morning, the building would be peaceful with the sounds of light chatters in the background. You can hear feet shuffling against the floor and legs of tables, and faint machine humming noises.
  • In the afternoon, there would be loud crowds talking, and doors constantly opening and closing. It seems as if we hear these door sounds that much more not only due to the larger traffic in the Goldfarb at this time of day, but also because our recording subject cannot seem to get through the crowd to continue their walk. The building is filled with energy and the sounds of beeping and sizzling noises from machines inside the building.
  • We get to the evening, which is still quite lively, but the people that are in the Goldfarb are not as wild as the afternoon crew. Conversations come in and out quickly and it seems that people are only travelling through the building to get somewhere else rather than sitting down and spending time there.
  • Finally, the night comes, and the building quiets down again. The humming of the ventilation system and refrigerators from the cafe can be heard. There are very few individuals passing by, thus, all other room ambiances we do not often pay attention to are more noticeable and clear.

The students in our experiments did a great job interpreting our instructions in their own ways. Every student took a different route around the interior of the building – some walked quickly, some walked slowly, some went all around the building by following the walls, some circled the centre of the room and returned to their starting point. Here are the route maps that they drew for us (please click on the image to enlarge):

We also tried to link their year of study and their degree with the way they navigated around the building to see if there would be any relations between how they interpreted our instructions and how they executed their journey.

  • 8:45am – Our fourth year Fine Arts major, who has most of his classes in the Goldfarb building and thus familiar with these surroundings, walked relatively quickly and did not make a full circle around the interior.
  • 1:21pm – Our second year Communications Studies major had a tough time trying to get through all the people to complete this walk for us. He captured the crowds very well though as he decided to walk around all the lunch tables and through the cafeteria line to catch additional voices and sounds within the building.
  • 5:12pm – Our first year East Asian Studies major walked all around the interior, right up against the wall and did not take any short cuts – she even walked through the hidden locker alley and behind the cafeteria stands. She seems to have taken our instructions in a more literal way.
  • 8:33pm – Finally, our fourth year Psychology major walked a relatively fast and short route, staying somewhat close to the centre of the room. She seemed to be in a hurry and we can somewhat hear this rush in the sounds of the quick footsteps in her recording.

Using this last project to conduct this sort of sound experiment was a great learning experience. People do not realize how important and amazing sound is when you give it your full attention. By focusing on sound without vision, these sound walks within the Goldfarb Centre for the Arts transformed our understanding and familiarity of the building completely.

Download original MP3 file: HERE

My group members are:
Amy Yang: BLOG
Justin Zhou: BLOG


~ by omejelee on March 27, 2011.

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