Talking walking with online sound map practitioners

Por Thaís Amorim Aragão

Universidad de Vale do Rio dos Sinos (UNISINOS), Brazil

In order to understand what emerges from the lived space that worth being recorded, archived and shared in sound maps – digital platforms for audio files of field recordings, mostly DIY initiatives – we are investigating the effectiveness of some methods of data collection within the community of practitioners. A sound map is a collection of audio recordings of sounds of the environment, captured outside the controlled space of the studio, and geolocalized in an online cartographic base that allows browsing, like Google Maps. In this research, a sound map is considered as a set of media practices, involving sound and space: listening, recording and the development and use of web platforms. Methodology involves asking sound map makers to describe their practices, with the objective of understanding what is being transmitted and what is configured as medium. Among the modalities of interview in use are: online semi-structured interviews; group interviews; face-to-face interviews; and, finally, “talking walking” interviews, that consist in asking the practitioner to guide a walk and starting a conversation with them during this journey. While conducting semi-structured interviews online shows potential in producing more accurate information on technical issues, interviews with multiple respondents in a single spot outdoors proved not to lead necessarily to better comprehension about the relations between recorded sounds and places operating in the context. At times, browsing the online cartography and listening to the files “in situ”, using a smartphone or other similar mobile device, provided better insights about what, when, how and why to record, even when the practitioners were not present. So far, the best results have been achieved when it was possible to interview individually the practitioners while walking with them through the places they use to map. In the next cases selected, we are willing to repeat this experience of active engagement in the surroundings with the sound map practitioners, noting that these different methods work in complementarity to fulfil the goals of the ongoing research.

Talking walking with online sound map practitioners