Goodbye

Posted by on August 8th, 2011 § 0

I’m afraid my last contribution to the Listening Project blog will be kind of a cop out.  At the end of the year all of the Student Arts Fund grant recipients are expected to submit some kind of report, so I’d like to share mine.  First of all, I’d like to prove that I did, indeed, write one, but I’d also like to share some of my culminating thoughts.  This is also such a lame way to say goodbye that, really, it can’t possibly be goodbye, and I sincerely mean what I say at the end of the report that follows:

The Listening Project never meant to last as long or reach as many as it did.  It began as a relatively modest undertaking with a simple goal: get Haverford students to tell stories about Haverford.  The idea was to create a new forum (and method) to discuss our experiences at Haverford.  We placed four tape recorders in four different locations around campus and invited students to interview each other using a list of questions we had put together as a jumping-off point.

The key to the success of all this was, of course, people.  The year started with a search for student volunteers, with focus groups to discuss the structure of the Listening Project.  We held a pre-recording event to discuss the interview format; we can approach the role of the interlocutor from many different angles.  The semester culminated in a “broadcast” of a compilation of clips (over a delicious pizza dinner).

The paragraphs above detail the intended trajectory of the Listening Project: a success!  The paragraphs below detail the continued momentum of the project: a surprise!

As the Listening Project began to advertise to the general student population toward the middle of the fall semester, the Alumni Relations Office also took note ­– and interest.  In collaboration with the Alumni Office, the Listening Project put on an event for a group of alumni as well, playing some clips from the broadcast, and ultimately inviting the alumni to record some of their own memories of Haverford.  (We may or may not have snagged a word with one Stephen G. Emerson, class of 1974.)

This moment of outreach taught us what a valuable tool the Listening Project could be, and in the spring, the LP contributed to the “In/Visible: Disability and the Arts” symposium.  Conducting a series of directed interviews, we collected stories from students about their experiences with accessibility on campus and used them to create a guided “walking tour” similar to a museum-style audio tour, along with a print guide full of transcripts and other helpful information.

We ended up with many more tapes than we had expected and the beginning of the year and many more hours of stories than we could possibly share, but believe us when we say they are stunning.  In true Haverford fashion, many participants found themselves in deep analytical discussions, while others shared amusing anecdotes and vignettes of life on campus.  We are currently in the process of digitizing the rest of these recordings and organizing the tapes into an archival library for the Haverford community (and radio station!) to enjoy for what we hope is many years to come.

P.S. I’m currently exploring the possibility of making the original broadcast available on here.  (If that happens, this clearly will not be my last post…)

P.P.S. All original LP recordings can be found in mp3 form on the storage server in a users folder called “listening.”

P.P.P.S. For future generations…

New news

Posted by on March 26th, 2011 § 0

This is not entirely relevant, but I’m so glad a Haverford alum is responsible for making me aware of this incredible cover.

Humanities Center progeny, right there.

What’s going on with the Listening Project, you ask?  Lots of listening.  Lots of digitizing.  It’s fourth quarter, people.  If you’ve got any exciting ideas for next year, now’s the time to get in touch with us!

first quarter > $0.25

Posted by on March 12th, 2011 § 0

Today was my last day in New York after precious little time at home, and I decided to take advantage of the glorious (spring!) weather by taking a stroll through my neighborhood and spending a few hours at the Met.  I wasn’t sure what new exhibits there were, but as I wandered I came upon a photography exhibit that created a conversation among Stieglitz, Steichen, and Strand.  The above photo (a Strand piece) reminded me that I had yet to post anything about the In/Visible outcomes.

The colloquium went beautifully (if you’ll excuse the term) and we all really latched onto the technique of verbal description: reconstructing an image through words (and with minimal analysis) for visually impaired audience members.  Although all speakers appeared to use the same methods of description, a few of us began to speculate about the subjective nature of viewing a painting: would two people necessarily produce similar audio descriptions of an image?  Certainly one person’s clear description can be another person’s winding labyrinth, as was proved with the tour we designed (a few independent tour-takers apparently got a bit turned around).  I should also note that not many people showed up for the actual event, but the event and the tour itself should not be conflated.  All the downloadable materials are still available on the Listening Project website and we heartily encourage anyone to take the tour at any time… it might be especially interesting to do it with a group of friends, peers, or freshmen.

As we move into the last quarter of the year (and my last quarter at Haverford!) we will continue to explore ideas of audio description, how speaking and listening can affect what we see (and/or how we see it).  We’ll also be working to digitize all the material we have and to create a few aural surprises before the semester is through.

Irony and downloads

Posted by on February 24th, 2011 § 0

It was only yesterday, as I was putting up a few fliers around campus, that I realized the unfortunate irony of calling the accessibility tour a “walking tour,” when the point of the tour, of course, is that anyone with any level of mobility should be able to participate.  I had not intended to use exclusive language, but even after all the research I had done to organize the tour, I ultimately continued to think just of my own body when I made the flier… but that’s exactly what the tour asks us to do.  It asks us to consider our own relationships to accessible spaces and how our bodies do or don’t use those spaces; at the same time, though, it seeks to broaden our understanding of what accessibility means and how it impacts our lives on campus.

In other news, the downloadable materials are available!  (Thank you, Sebastianna!)  The mp3 and print versions of the tour are both available on the “Projects” page of this website, and there are a number of ways you can take advantage of these materials:

  1. Select only one to guide your tour experience, but talk to people using a different tour taking method.  Try to find out how experiences vary.
  2. Use both, but rely mainly on the mp3, using the print guide for its map and time code indications.
  3. Use both, but rely mainly on the print tour, occasionally using the mp3 to listen to some of the clips from student recordings.
  4. Use both equally, listening to the narration on the mp3 and following along in the print guide.
  5. There are definitely other creative ways to interact with the materials provided.  Come up with something that works for you!

Where are the downloads?

Posted by on February 22nd, 2011 § 0

We’re still finishing up the mp3 and print guide, but they should be up by tomorrow afternoon or evening!  They’ll be available on the “Projects” page, along with additional information about the tour.

What’s happening?

Posted by on February 21st, 2011 § 0

Well, these past few weeks, the LP labs have been brewing yet another listening experience.  This coming weekend, in conjunction with the “In/Visible: Disability and the Arts” conference, the LP has created a Haverford campus accessibility tour.  With clips from a few student interviews and basic accessibility information about several prominent buildings on campus, the mp3 we’ve compiled will work something like a “museum tour” of campus.  In the spirit of accessibility, we’re also in the process of creating a print document to accompany the mp3.  You can totally customize your tour experience by using the mp3, the print tour, or both; no matter what, it should be an interactive and informative experience.  Expect signage and specific time information within the next 24 hours, campus!

Here's the route we'll be following!

Posted by on February 15th, 2011 § 0

Royalty Free Music!

Sweet!

Links and News

Posted by on February 8th, 2011 § 0

We ain’t dead!  In fact, the Listening Project is on board with another neat Humanities Center project, which we’ve spent the last few weeks getting off the ground.  At the end of the month, on Friday, February 25, the HHC is hosting a conference called “In/Visible: Disability and the Arts.”  In addition to simply participating in the conference, members of the Listening Project are producing an additional event/experience revolving around access on campus.  We’ve still got a few kinks to work out, so I’ll keep this hush-hush/on the DL/etc. for the moment, but just know that if you’re itching to get involved, we’d be happy to interview you and there’s also a student reading group happening this week and next!

Also: here’s a cool cassette tape gif.

One Hello World

Posted by on January 19th, 2011 § 0

A while back, I mentioned the How Are You Doing Project, which allows people to answer that question that we always ask in passing without ever really waiting for the answer.  One Hello World is another voicemail-based project, but it legitimizes what we have to say in a different way — with music.  Each voicemail gets its own original soundtrack, but as far as I can tell, that’s the only editing that takes place.  Awesome project.

Awesome tapes from Africa!

Posted by on January 7th, 2011 § 0

Believe it or not, the title of this entry does not spring from my (misplaced?) enthusiasm for cassette tapes.  Not directly, anyway.

Meet Brian Shimkovitz, recently spotlighted in the Fader for his blog called (what else) Awesome Tapes from Africa.  In some ways, it would appear that Mr. Shimkovitz (Brian?) and I are brethren in our efforts simultaneously to preserve the cassette tape as a medium and to digitally disperse the contents of cassettes.  His project differs from the Listening Project superficially, of course: he collects music from all over Africa, which he then digitizes and shares on his blog.  He also draws opinion in different ways.  By sharing the contents of his tapes, Shimkovitz provides a new forum for the voices of these artists, but also makes his own point about recording media, the music industry, and access.  As the music works its magic on his readers (and listeners, I suppose), Shimkovitz’s project begs for comments; in the Fader video, he speaks specifically of the different opinions and voices that have entered into conversation on his blog.  No need to take my word for it, though… that’s what links are for.

Incidentally, it sounds a little bit like the sound for the video might have been recorded on a cassette tape, but perhaps my ears betray me.