the pictures are better on radio

Still working my way through the backlog – this time another attempt at documentation that doesn’t involve sticking a video camera or a telephoto lens in anyone’s face. Including mine. urgh.

Here I walked with a voice recorder in the side pocket of my rucksack and a camera on interval timer just held in my hand as I walked. The result is some fairly snap, crackle and pop audio and some blurry photos…

…I think it works quite well!

The images [portrait format, distorted horizontally to fit the video’s dimensions – apologies to the woman in the brown dress] appear at minute intervals so there’s a long gap in between them where you only have the audio. Initially I was planning to have the images on screen for longer, thinking that visual = interesting. What I actually found was the images became something of a distraction. Ideally I’d just plug myself into my headphones and settle back with my eyes closed, but here I have to stay mindful of the screen and a minute is a really long time

Instead we have flashes of imagery to act as sort of orientation for the sounds, but not until you’ve had a while between photos to imagine up your own images to accompany the noises. In this way I think I regard the white as a blank canvas to paint your own pictures onto. Maybe not being able to understand what the people are saying is another aspect to this too?

There comes a point when you just have to back off and leave space for people to make their own meaning.

The full walk lasts for over 1 hour and is not for the faint-hearted, so here is a 10 minute extract. I really recommend headphones; whether you keep your eyes open or not is up to you.

Oh, and I was also hooked up to a galvanic skin response sensor at the same time, but that’s another story.

SoPG: Yamanote, revisited

With one thing and another I’ve been spending a lot of time recently working on different aspects of the Sites of Potentiality Guidebooks series.

As well as developing projects to keep pushing the format in new directions, I’ve been looking at how best to present last year’s Yamanote Line project.

Although most of my documentation at the time was done via photography (and a couple of dozen of rather nice tickets – man! I love that silky black finish on the back!) I really don’t want it to turn into some sort of photography project.

So far I have 2 possible solutions…

The first is a website style format where selected photos are presented alongside bilingual word-pictures of each walk. It’s good in that it goes some way to convey the sense of journey and experience, but I feel it’s still quite a passive mode of consumption.

I’m carefully describing them as website style because I’d choose to display them under very particular conditions where I can control the appearance. Normally I’d be a lot more inclusive with my web design, but this is me in prima donna control freak mode. So there.

To aid the feedback process though, I’ve uploaded the pages for the first day’s walks so you can have a look here. A change-log can be found at the bottom of this page.

The pages were designed to be viewed in Firefox (available here) with all navigation bars removed, in full screen mode and at a screen resolution of 1024 x 768px.

[Internet Explorer does its own thing and adds in a load of visual elements I don’t want ranging from vertical scrollbars through to blue borders around images. I’m PC-based, but a quick test in Firefox for Mac suggests there may be slight issues with variations in the positioning of the text. YMMV]

Here’s a screenshot of what I see. (Click for larger version)


Solution 2 is performance based:

The time taken to do a complete circuit of the Yamanote line by train is about an hour. With 29 stations that’s a couple of minutes per station. Or, alternatively, a couple of minutes per walk.

During off-peak times, I think a carriage on a Yamanote line train would make the perfect venue for a presentation of the project: in sync with the different locations as myself and my audience (a mixture of pre-arranged and incidental) travel from station to station.

Here’s a draft version of how it might sound…

Audio clip: Adobe Flash Player (version 9 or above) is required to play this audio clip. Download the latest version here. You also need to have JavaScript enabled in your browser.


We shall not cease from exploration…

  • The found translation for the T.S. Eliot quote:

    We shall not cease from exploration
    And the end of all our exploring
    Will be to arrive where we started
    And know the place for the first time.

    has been changed from:


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