Sound Spheres is a web-based interface combining computational digital media and storytelling techne with which participants can create interactive, participatory sound-based narratives.
The interface visualizes a night-time city skyline. Atop one building is an antenna mast. Periodically, this antenna broadcasts multiple colored spheres. These spheres circulate above the city skyline, rebounding from the monitor's edges. More spheres are broadcast at regular intervals.
Each sphere carries a unique non-human audio sample. Participants may construct stories from these sound spheres in three ways.
First, by moving the cursor to intersect the trajectories of the sound spheres, participants can hear the audio samples they carry. The cursor is a listening device.
Second, participants can position the cursor anywhere on the screen, and wait for sound spheres to pass within its range of hearing. As sound spheres approach the cursor, they glow and their audio contents are heard.
Finally, participants can click up to five sound spheres, moving them into an audio player outlined by one of the buildings in the city skyline.
In these ways, participants can create serendipitous linear narratives based on interactivity and narrative elements provided by the selected sound spheres.
A different sound for each sphere.
Move the cursor (white ear) among the sound spheres.
Or, place the cursor somewhere and leave it.
Spheres close enough to be heard will "glow" and play their sound(s).
Click up to five sound spheres. They will move into the player.
Click the "Play" button to hear the narrative you created from your selections.
Spheres outside the player cannot be heard.
Click the "Stop" button to stop the linear narrative.
Spheres outside the player can now be heard.
Click the "Eject" button to remove a sphere from the player.
Change the settings under the "Cog" icon however you like.
John F. Barber teaches in The Creative Media & Digital Culture program at Washington State University Vancouver. His research and practice combines media art, Digital Humanities, and sound. He developed and maintains Radio Nouspace (www.radionouspace.net), a curated listening gallery/virtual museum for sound featuring historical and experimental radio+audio drama, radio+sound art, and sound poetry. His radio+sound art work has been broadcast internationally, and featured in juried exhibitions in America, Australia, Brazil, Canada, England, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Northern Ireland, Portugal, Spain, and United Arab Emirates.
Greg Philbrook is the technical and instructional technician for The Creative Media & Digital Culture Program (CMDC) at Washington State University Vancouver. He manages the program's computer labs and web server, heads student workshops, and collaborates with faculty on numerous projects. As a developer, he built both the preservation catalog for the Electronic Literature Lab and the program's inventory system, worked with Dene Grigar (CMDC Program Director) on the interactive story Curlew. He has also provided technical support at exhibits curated by Grigar at the Library of Congress, Electronic Literature Organization conferences, and Digital Humanities Summer Institute in Victoria, B.C.