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Welcome Home: The Sounds of Bryn Mawr

sara.gladwin's picture

Both Sarah and I agreed that we do not have linear thought processes, but in an effort to indulge in divergent thoughts we recorded a very unstructured conversation about our ecological project, which including some of the sounds we have recorded while working together. For our project we both led each other on a blindfold sound tour, and led one another to a place of our choosing while recording. I was torn because I ended up needing to cut at least 20-30 minutes from the conversation because the entire recording was over an hour long and it was just too long to listen to. When I have the opportunity I will upload the rest because I think it is an interesting conversation, but I kept what I thought was the most relevant.

Another way that I could have seen doing this project would have been to use a program like prezi to create a map of Bryn Mawr, and have different sound recordings to represent different places. The reason we chose to go with the podcast is because we wanted a representation that was entirely auditory in some way. We do have film recording of some of the places we visited as well; but this is intended to be separate from the podcast. It was part of our “research” about negotiating the wide range of possibilities there are to represent a place. Another aspect of our initial planning that never made it into the podcast/final products was our discussions that had revolved around how certain knowledge of a place or its sounds changes your understanding of that place. We had intended to do this through researching what bird calls we could hear and what that might indicate about a place that we may not have known. This idea really related back to thinking about Max’s teach in with animals that indicate water quality, and trying to find out what other animals in this area may indicate. However, as the project evolved, both our time limitations, lack of bird knowledge and lack of bird sounds on our recordings made this part of the project hard to produce. I would have been interested also to talk about the ways in which the sounds change depending on the time of day. In our original full podcast, we actually talked about the differences between Bryn Mawr sounds in the winter and in the summer.

I think the most interesting thing that came out of this project for me was developing a much fuller understanding of the ways in which relying on eyesight can be a passive experience, almost like a “crutch.” We value sight so highly but in some ways, those who see the world primarily through their eyes can be impaired by their visual abilities and dependence. I would expand this more but you have to listen to the podcast to find out!


Note: there are a couple recordings that are much lower in sound, so you may have to turn up the volume if you can’t hear anything and think you should be hearing something. 

I hope you enjoy our auditory paper!

link to our podcast: 



sarahj's picture

On second thought...

Actually, even that wouldn't work so I'm going to give you the link to two of our uploaded videos so you can try the experiment.  You will need to turn off the audio on the youtube video.  The purpose is to only use your eyes.

The Cloisters: (with this video it actually might be fun to watch it without sound and then replay it with your eyes closed and the sound on.  The video camera picked up sound much better than the recorder did)

Perry House:

sarahj's picture

Additional Media

Here is the link to our visual recording of our product.  while one of use recorded the sounds of each place we visited, the other recorded the visual.  We were exploring the loss that occurs when you are using one sense over the other.  What would we miss when all we can do is see?  What would we miss if all we could do is hear?  There shouldn't be any audio attached to this video.  I also apologize for any poor quality you experience.  I think there may have been some problems with the copy of Final Cut Pro I was using to put the images together and since this is my first time using it, there is only so much I could figure out once I realized there was a problem. It is extremely long and I don't expect anyone to sit all the way through it. 


I very much enjoyed working on this project with Sara.  I would have loved to have spent some more time on this project and possibly expanded the notion of a visual map of Bryn Mawr.  Something that I found significant was the difference between sound and noise and how noise is generally foregrounded and sound is in the background.  That is something I would have liked to apply to an auditory map of Bryn Mawr. I also think that I may have been able to talk a bit more about how sound connects with fear.  I was thinking a lot about how, I become scared when I can't see.  What if there is danger coming toward me while I can't see?  The strange thing is, it should actually be more scary if I cannot hear.  Sara and I discussed sight and hearing in regards to sleeping.  Our safety completely depends on our hearing and its strange how we privilege our eyes so much when really its our ears we need.