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Sonolope is a system of movement sonification that uses mobile media (phones and smart watches) as the interface between the user and the system. It has been developed by creative technologist Simon East and Maria Kapsali over a period of four years and through on-going workshops with students, artists, cultural organisations and members of the public. This year Sonolope has been operated by Dr Christine Farion.

As part of this project, Sonolope was one of the main mobile phone technologies we explored in class. The exploration primarily focused on the following three areas, which both relate to elements of contemporary artistic practice and are dictated by the affordances of the specific technology:
Development of movement and kinaesthetic awareness
Exploration of character
Development of installation and soundscapes.

Development of Movement and Kinesthetic Awareness

One of the ways to use Sonolope involves strapping the phone on a part of the body and selecting a sound sample from the drop down menu that appears on the phone's screen. The sound of the selected sample is then generated in response to the user's movement in the space. The production of sound can often be experienced as gratifying, since movement has a very immediate effect that is not only heard by the mover and those around her, it also enlivens and fills the space occupied by the user. In this manner, the user can experience their movement in an additional register and this often leads the user to expand both the size and range of their movement. By placing the phone on different body parts, Sonolope can also bring attention to parts of the body that are not part of the mover's habitual repertoire. In this way, the mover can be nudged to move beyond their immediate preferences. A further analysis of the relationship between the audio and the kinaesthetic with regard to movement sonification can be found here. A list of exercises on working with Sonolope can be found here.

Exploration of character
The use of Sonolope for exploring character has taken two forms:
a. one involves attaching the media on the user's body, as is described in the previous application on movement development;
b. the other involves placing the media inside objects. In this case, the sound is produced when the object is moved. In both instances, the samples we usually use are recorded text that relate to the character's lines and/or situation.

We experimented with both of these possibilities as a way to explore the creation of character, from a dramaturgical as well as acting point of view.
In the first one, we created a scene with two actors, whereby the text spoken out live was complemented or contradicted by the recorded text that was produced through Sonolope.
In the second instance, the character was created by a series of objects and texts, without a live actor. Depending on the character's characteristics, a series of objects were placed in the space giving a sense of the character's living space. This served as an installation and audience members, or in this case the rest of the workshop participants, were able to engage directly with the objects. As these objects were moved, the sound samples communicated the character's thoughts or information about them. Rather than created, it would be more accurate to say that the character was conjured out of his or her material artefacts. The installation can thus give a sense of paradoxical presence, which is enhanced by the absence of an actor who would be otherwise read as the character. The first variation can be helpful in encouraging students to think about additional layers of a character's text and background. It can be particularly useful in enabling the student to develop a sense of the text's subtext and the relationship between what the character says and what the character thinks (which in this case can also be heard). The second variation, on the other hand, offers an understanding of character that is closer to a post-dramatic approach. In this case, the character is no longer identified with a living, talking human person, but rather it is presented as an assemblage of objects, texts, memories. The character is something constructed by the theatre maker, and has to be assembled by the audience through various acts of mediation, primarily through moving objects and triggering pieces of text and sound. This last version has been developed further by A Quiet Word in the piece House. You can find more information about the piece here.

In the two videos below, you can see the same choreography created by students during a self-directed session. . In the first instance the movement produces sound, whereas in the second the movement produces text. The text was generated out of an exercise that invited the students to write short phrases beginning with 'I am'. These short texts were then recorded and fed into Sonolope. Although the movement material is the same in both explorations, the overall effect of the piece, as well as the students' engagement with the material, is quite different. In the first video, the exploration focuses on arms movements, possibly because the device producing the sound is hand held, and the students are becoming more aware of the movement of the hands. In the second video, the text brings in an additional layer, since what we can hear can be interpreted as the students' inner thoughts, or as common tropes around female identity. In this second video, there is a sense of character, but this character is dispersed, as it cannot be identified with any one performer. It is rather produced out of the interactions between the different parts of the system.

Development of Installation and Soundscapes

A third way of using Sonolope is in an installation. Similarly to the variation described above, the media are placed within objects. This time, however, the objects do not refer to an absent character, but are offered as material for developing a sculptural-auditory composition. This variation was used in the performance Body Sensations: An A-Z, which second year students created in response to a brief set by the Leeds Art Gallery.

What you will see below is a rehearsal of 'Re-arrange', a game/installation developed as part of Body Sensations and in response to Anne Hardy's installation Falling and Walking (phhhhhhhhhhh phossshhhhh crrhhhhzzz mn huaooogh) that was shown at the Leeds Art Gallery in April 2018. 'Re-arrange' is informed by an exercise by American choreographer Susan Redhorst and described in her book A Choreographic Mind (2015). Redhorst's exercise is simple: in a pair you choose a set of objects, and you take turns arranging them in a space marked between you. Responding to Hardy's piece, which used made and found debris in an environment the visitor could walk in, 'Re-arrange' similarly used mundane objects. Unlike Hardy's piece, though, the visitors at 'Re-arrange' were invited to move and position the objects in the space. Also, unlike Hardy's piece that had a prerecorded soundtrack of found sounds that marked the duration  of the installation, the objects used in 'Re-arrange' could produce two types of sound: natural sounds generated out of the object's material and movement and recorded sounds that were generated by sensors located in the objects, which responded to the visitor's movements (at around 2:50 of the video you can see both sounds working together).  This way of working can be useful in a number of ways. There are clear echoes with Alan Kaprow's Happenings as well as with Dadaist practice, especially pieces that involved objects and sound. As such, using Sonolope in this way can allow students to explore through practice particular points of performance history as well as enable them to make links between experimentation that took place in the 1960s, or even further back, and the technologies that are now available. It can also train compositional skills as well as an ability to improvise, since an engagement with the activity requires responsiveness, imagination, new ways of seeing, and an appreciation of affordances. Finally, it offers a playful way to introduce students to notions of intermediality and probe them to think about a theatre making practice that is open to a range of media.

The video captures an impromptu play that took place, when we were testing 'Re-arrange' prior to its installation in the Gallery.
Players are: Ed Coulden, Jacob Justice, Joe Kent-Walters and myself. Video by creative technologist Christine Farion.