The Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT

King Arthur, boats and removing "tour" from the museum audio experience

March-July 2008


ROUND is part museum audio tour and part participatory audio blog commissioned by and exhibited at the Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum in Ridgefield, Connecticut. Using mobile networked devices, museum visitors are able to leave audio comments about the museum’s artworks as well as hear those of other museum visitors, artists and curators. Voices are combined with music in an individualized audio experience.

From the exhibition brochure:

Today, information gathering involves gaining perspective from a diverse array of sources, all available at our fingertips. Searching for a simple product online, individuals can read reviews not only from “expert” sources, but from the product users themselves, and subsequently add their own feedback. Content is no longer something created and maintained by a single authoritative entity. Instead, the public is accustomed to content that is available, participatory, and ultimately democratic in nature. Wikis, blogs, and sites like YouTube seek to involve browsers in an ongoing process of creation and collaboration that constantly changes the landscape of the Web. Why should experiencing art be any different?
ROUND probes this question by using networking and streaming audio technologies to create a hybrid of the traditional museum audio tour and a participatory blog. ROUND is an audio installation that seeks spoken voice contributions from museum visitors and uses them as part of an evolving musical composition intended to be listened to while viewing the work in the galleries. This interactive audio experience allows visitors to select from a diverse range of voices sharing their perspectives about the exhibitions—including artists, curators, educators, and visitors—and to add their own responses to the mix. Just as a dialogue about a work of art is forever unfolding, the flow of music changes continually as a result of being created using custom compositional algorithms.
The title ROUND alludes to both a musical round—a song in which two or more voices sing the same melody but in an offset fashion—and the age-old Arthurian legend about the Knights of Camelot who sat at a round table, affording no one person a privileged position. Equality of opinion and the opportunity for two-way dialogue are core ideas of this project. As participating visitors view the exhibitions, their comments are collected in a database of recordings and subsequently incorporated into the piece in real time. Thus, there is a continual loop of opinion and emotional response, all contained within a musical work.

Audio Samples


Video Trailer

A short film that explains the mechanics and experience of ROUND.