Ruff Life


Ruff Life is a 1:44 sound installation to portray an inanimate object as a living creature. It is a narration about a dog expressing their feelings of a dog’s life.


Using my dog as the center of the narration made the sound effects easier to record when a sound did not come out the way I wanted to. Some of the sound effects were challenging to gather because my dog does not like to bark so I had to search for a barking sound effect. Gathering the material, such as, the stuffed animal dog was easy because I used a toy from my dog’s toy box.


Ruff Life is a sound installation to portray an inanimate dog stuff animal as a living creature by placing a Bluetooth speaker within the stuffed animal to portray the dog speaking for herself. It is a narration about a dog expressing her feelings on how rough it is to be a dog. The story goes on to show a dog’s perspective to the reaction of a child.


The purpose of this work is to create deception to the listeners, making it seem as though the stuffed animal dog is actually talking and expressing its feelings toward the certain situation being presented. Listeners should be able to imagine the scene played out in front of them. The sound installation is place in a bedroom with other toys to experience the full effect.


The major influence behind the conceptual framework for Ruff Life is the sound installation ‘A Mighty Span’ and how it contributed to a sense of hearing of an event that could paint a picture in the listener’s mind. I took this a step further to incorporate a visual aspect to the installation to make a connection between the visual and sound. I also got inspiration from the movie Toy Story and how the toys have a secret life after the owner disappears and they are able to talk. As well as, growing up with dogs all my life I have always been curious on what they are actually thinking. As a pet owner I unconsciously talk as if I am my dog and have mini conversations


There are a few funny Youtube videos where the owner is talking for the dog while they are doing something. My work is different in the way that instead of using a real dog I incorporated a stuffed animal that has a speaker placed within it. So I am taking the impossible action of a dog speaking a step further. This art work promotes critical thinking by having the listener/viewer connect to this unconscious action that we as humans talk for our pets. Why not talk for other inanimate objects?


I tried to simulate the sound effects as accurate to the real thing as possible. The audio materials I used were self-recorded when possible with a mix of creative common elements, the editing of the recordings were done within Garageband and the webpage is hand coded. For physical material I took a stuffed animal dog and stripped it of its filling to place a mini Bluetooth speak to hide within it.


Ruff Life was conceived and created as an interactive experience by listening and viewing the stuffed animal. The outcome that I projected was the viewer imagining the stuffed animal being real. The outcome of the actual result was more listening oriented. The environment and physical placement of the sound installation is important so without the installation being place in a certain environment, such as a bedroom placed next to other toys, the listener can experience the full effect.


With this project I feel as though I did not achieve what I was hoping for and that is because the stuffed animal I was seemed too small to be believable. If I had used a larger dog stuffed animal and placed the speak in the head instead of the body it might have had a different effect, so scale does play a factor. The script of the sound piece could have been change to something a little less story like and more just talk with the audience to engage them a little more.