My Listening Body: The bodily, multisensory experience of sound is one of the major topics we will explore in this class. This project asks you to design a piece of autobiographical digital media or a performance about sound and the body. Specifically, your task is to examine a sonic experience that caused you to be very aware of your body (not just your ears). This should not be a linear, narrative-driven story. Rather, you are encouraged to experiment with different possibilities for structuring and presenting your experience (using sound and/or images and/or video). The goal of this assignment is to gain a critical awareness of how the material, affective nature of sound shapes and colors our bodily experiences.
Mapping Sound: Working as a group, we will spend several weeks collecting field recordings around the UMBC campus—in various classrooms, common spaces, outdoor spaces, etc. Each of the recordings will be uploaded to a digital sound map we will create via the soundcities project (http://www.soundcities.com/global/enter.php), where it will be tagged with the appropriate information. Once we have created a substantial digital map that attempts to capture the soundscape of UMBC, we will be using the map to analyze what information the sounds reveal about our campus. In addition to participating in the recording and tagging of sounds, each of you will be writing a detailed reflection about your experiences with this form of collaborative composition. You will be evaluated on your individual contributions and your overall participation in the project (guidelines will be provided that outline specific expectations for these things). This project will serve to fuel discussions about the ways in which sound influences our sense of place.
Sonic Objects: This project requires you to design a “Sonic Object,” or a material thing that employs sound to enhance users’ overall experience. Working in small teams, you will design a unique sonic object via sketching and building a model for the object, as well as creating the distinct sounds for the object in a digital audio editor. Teams will be evaluated on their abilities to apply design techniques and strategies, including being able to articulate their design choices during the presentation of the objects. The aim of this assignment is to gain an experiential understanding of how sound works in relation to other sensory modes and materials.
Multisensory Dining Event: In conjunction with the Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH) and the Design | Cultures and Creativity (DCC) program at the University of Maryland, College Park, we will be designing a multisensory dining event near the end of the semester. Collaboratively, we will create original sonic compositions that compliment or enhance the visual design, smells, and tastes of a meal. The challenge of this project is to use sound design to compose a truly multisensory experience. After a semester of reading about sound design and planning the various elements of the meal, we will host the event for selected students in the DCC program at UMD. Much more information to come.
In addition to the main course projects, participation will be factored into your final grade for the course.
Participation: The success of this course is dependent on students’ willingness to participate fully and actively. That is, each of you should be here on time, prepared to engage with the course readings, workshops, and/or other activities we have scheduled on a particular day. This course has been designed to afford you all the opportunity to collaborate, exchange ideas, discuss the course material, and share your own work as it progresses. The course blog will be one of our main platforms for sharing thoughts about the readings and projects, as well as for planning our final collaborative project. Each student will be expected to make contributions to the blog at various times during the course (I will keep you informed about when specific posts or blog activities are due). Blog posts will count toward your participation grade.
My Listening Body [30%] | Mapping Sound [10%] | Sonic Objects [20%] | Participation [10%] | Multisensory Dining Event [30%]
A = 90-100 | B = 80-89 | C = 70-79 | D = 60-69
*Detailed guidelines for all projects will be provided in class.