Building narratives in constructed audible space.

Started on 04/11/2003

Additional collaborators: Aki-Ville Pöykiö Miska Natunen Sanna Leskinen

Kidnapped aimed to create an abstract space within a ‘real’ space, it explores user response when given the ability to explore and interact with a purely audible space.

Kidnapped employed tightly scripted audio narration to create a single character, this ‘single’ character was ‘split’ into four personalities;

These personalities were presented through the use of four speakers. By tracking the exact position of a user in the space, we could independently adjust the volume levels of the four separate speakers, thus creating voices that could either follow or avoid a user. In doing so the user was able to ‘wonder’ through the different aspects of the characters personality, moving from the dark to the neurotic and back again. The choice of a single character with four personalities presents the user with a minds eye view of the unfolding situation they find themselves, and their unique physical movements dictate a different understanding of the character each time the system is started.

The scenario

The performance begins with a darkened room, on the floor is a taped out space that represents the systems boundaries, in the middle of the space is a hand gun. The space is silent, users naturally take their cue and walk over to the gun. The user then picks up the gun and four speakers blurt into action at once.

“WHOA! WHOA! take it easy, don’t point that thing at me, just take it easy, I didn’t mean for it to do down like this just relax and give me a chance to explain”

The character starts with one unified voice which is desperate to control the changed situation, then the characters personalities begin to take over. Each speakers volume drops to a more natural level and the differing, yet unified, aspects of the characters personality become a separate voices – one speaker becomes ‘dark’ one ‘rational’, one ‘hedonistic’ and one ‘neurotic’. Now by moving around the space the volume levels change; perhaps approaching the ‘dark’ speaker might increase its volume giving it attention, then another voice, perhaps that of the dark calls out over the others.

‘go one asshole you dont got the balls’

The user then reacts to the voices all trying to have influence, stumbling around trying to work out what is happening, and why they still have the gun in their hand.

As the system plays out the user misses various plot devices and therefore has to fill in the blanks, creating their own interpretation of this strange and disorientating situation. After some time users begin to wonder how the situation ends, if it will even end and thus one of two possibilities. The first possibility is to place the gun on the floor and walk away, this simply fades the voices to a mumble. The alternative is that the user pulls the trigger of the gun, the gun ‘goes off’ with all four speakers again unified in a deafening and realistic gun shot, the speakers fall silent, the user slightly stunned places the gun down and walks away, in doing this the system starts and ends with a unified action to strengthen the idea that all four voices are one single character. The actual outcome is left as ambiguous as to leave open the question of who was shot: an individual voice, the complete character, or even the ‘voices’ inside your own head.