Compositions for Rivers

AR app with sound. 2015.

The public art work Compositions for Rivers utilizes photographs of rivers generated and submitted by the communities of the tri-county area, which have been modulated and interpreted by a custom computer program into sound, in order to create a ‘sonic river’ as a publicly installed sound art work, accessible as a printed sonic ‘map’ and an augmented reality app on a cellphone. This work is meant to be experienced in the Grasse River island of Heritage Park in Canton NY. Participants should travel to the park, use the printed map to direct their path through the park, and listen to the sound compositions while at the locations indicated on the map. Each location has seating, and is positioned with a view of the Grasse River.

I imagine that a listener will encounter Compositions for Rivers as they wander the trails of Heritage Park, the sounds of the translated photographs mingling with the rushing water, and in listening to this ‘sonic map,’ will have a moment of reflection, escape, or awareness of their relationship to the ever changing literal and metaphorical rivers around us.

Since both Canton and Potsdam (and indeed many towns in the North Country) are located on rivers, this work functions as a quiet echo of the local topography. In addition, by shifting information from one encoded medium (a photograph) to another (sound), and permeating public space with the new result, we can begin to think about the shifting codes that structure the information we encounter daily.

Compositions for Rivers was composed to be listened to while in Grasse River Heritage Park, Canton NY.

Grasse River Heritage Park is a former industrial site in downtown Canton, NY. It is accessible off of West Main Street, as you cross the Grasse River. It is composed of two islands that are joined by bridges, with numerous areas for sitting and engaging with the history of river use in Canton.

While in the park, participants can access the sound compositions by using this map, which has digital content embedded, and their smartphones.

How it works:

Step 1. Search for Layar on the app store for your device. Download the free Layar app for iPhone or Android.
Step 3. Open the Layar app, hold the phone above the page and “Tap to View.”
Step 4. Hold your phone above the map to view the interactive content.
Step 5. Use headphones to listen to the
embedded sound files.
Step 6. Wander to the locations suggested by magenta dots and listen to each of the four movements of the composition.

Interview about project on North Country Public Radio:

This project is made possible with funds from the Decentralization Program, a regrant program of the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and administered by the St. Lawrence County Arts Council.