Listening Map / Project 1

This is a listening map in which I visualized the sounds heard from children’s section and young adult’s section at the Ames public library.  The reason I choose this place is that generally people refrain from making sounds and make their voice quieter than usual in the library. Thus, I think that the library is an interesting place to make a listening map, and I am also curious about what the listening map looks like.

I visited the library to sketch a listening map at 6pm on Tuesday, January 27, 2015. Unlike my expectation, there were still a lot of little kids playing around with their parents or guardians at that time. I was sitting between kids section and teens room, and then tried to listen to the sounds. The most dominant sound was human voices from kids, their parents, librarians, and teenagers. Since the library was renovated a few months ago and the newly installed carpet seems to absorb the sound, I feel that all the sounds were really warm and cozy, and readily disappeared. The sounds did not bother me even though I can still hear lot of high pitch voices of kids and the voices resonated.

My next visit to the library occurred at 5pm on Saturday, January 31. It was just an hour before the library closed. There were less people in the library compared to Tuesday maybe because it was close to the closing time and a snow storm warning was issued. I had a similar feeling of warmness and coziness on the sounds that I had had on Tuesday but with less voices and noises. Because of this, I felt the background sound, heater sound, louder than Tuesday.

For making the listening map, I used colors and round circles to describe all the voices that I heard. In order to show the warm and cozy feeling sounds, I used bright colors, and the opacity was used to show the pitches. The large circles with light gray and skin colors represent the low and small sound, respectively. Small bright dots show the high pitch sounds of children’s voices. Yellow squares are the sounds of the librarian shelving books. There are large yellow circles and lines depicting the heating sounds on the right side of the map. I think that the adult’s voices and heater sounds were more to a background sounds which I could hear constantly with low sounds.

The green circles on right side of the map showed the mid tone of teen’s voices. Although there was a wall to the teenager’s room, I could hear the voices very well. There are the red starbursts right at the top of the upper map show the little kid’s crying sounds on the Tuesday map. On Saturday, before the library was closed, the library was filled with the large announcement that they are closing which were showed with red radiation lines the center of the map.

We are communicating with the world through five senses. Among them, we perceive objects mainly by vision, but auditory sense can provide us a great amount of information and details. When hearing sounds, we imagine the associated activities and objects. For example, in the dark or behind the back where the visional sense is futile, we totally depend on hearing.  If you have been in the beach, you can envision the scenery around the beach from wave sounds. Similarly, you can guess a species of the bird from the bird sound, the surprised face of a driver from brake sounds, the face of a child from crying sounds, and an image of a librarian re-shelving from the sound of placing books on the shelves.

Information given by sounds which are abstract is visualized in a listening map and expressed in concrete form. On the contrary, any sound maps make us to feel as if we hear the sounds by looking at it.