Nuts & Bolts of Crafting a Location-Aware Audio Journey
Thursday, November 9, 2017 11:30 AM - 11:45 AM
Venue: Allegheny

"Through the Eyes of Love" is a longform, immersive soundwalk that upends traditional audio tours by combining the latest indoor-positioning technology with a new approach to storytelling. Close collaboration between the Nelson-Atkins and content partner Antenna were vital to the project because the Nelson-Atkins is only the second museum in the United States, after SFMOMA, to create this type of innovative, immersive audio journey using technology developed by high-tech start-up Detour.

Early in the project, we posed this question: what would it take to get a visitor so invested in an story that they lose track of time? We collectively examined many of the fundamental dynamics of audio tours to examine why that “flow state” often doesn’t occur. We came up with a number of tried-and-true fundamentals that we threw out the window. No more random access. No more 90-second messages. No more anonymous narration. No more authoritative institutional voice. No more explaining. Embracing this new stance for the immersive walks, Antenna and Nelson-Atkins spent months participating in “StoryJams,” creating narrative maps and pathways, swapping artworks, drafting and re-drafting story arcs, voices, and themes to find fresh ways to engage visitors on a deeply human level. "Through the Eyes of Love" is a meditative journey into the elusive, complicated, messy nature of love.

The soundwalk leverages location-aware technology to trigger audio at exactly the same pace as the visitor moves through the galleries. Most importantly, the soundwalk is led by an actual person. She introduces herself by name and shares personal stories and memories. She uses informal, every-day expressions; she asks questions without providing answers; she’s opinionated about what artwork she likes and doesn’t like. As the walk deepens, she pulls in friends to share touching, deeply-lived experiences. For example, at Edgar Degas’ sculpture ‘Grand Arabesque’, a real-life ballerina speaks about her passion for dance that is so great, she gladly walks around with bloody feet. The authenticity of this approach, the real-time, real-life feeling that this brings to the soundwalk, along with the perfectly-timed audio, is so touching, it has left visitors crying in the galleries.


Type of Session
Case Study
Session Leader : Christine Murray, Sr. Creative Strategist & Executive Producer, Antenna International