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'Soundpaths: NDSM' is an immersive, interactive musical work that has been mapped onto the NDSM Wharf in Amsterdam. The music is blended with field recordings gathered at the performance location. The piece uses audio augmented reality (AAR) to blend the performed work with the ambiance of the location.

The work is performed through a GPS-enabled Smartphone and headphones, using the Soundpaths app. GPS technology allows for the mapping of a composition over a landscape so that the music is experienced within the context of a very specific geography. It is possible to achieve a fine alignment of sound with space that enables the structuring of a musical work around specific landmarks.

From the 1920s to the 1980s, Amsterdam’s NDSM Wharf was one of the largest shipyards in the world. In recent years it has become a rugged creative centre. The process of transformation undergone by the site is an intriguing one. Amsterdam Noord, where NDSM is located, is a part of the city with its own distinct character and socio-economic makeup; “For a long time, the area was home to much that the city of Amsterdam did not want, from medieval gallows field to squatter caravan sites, polluting chemical and shipbuilding industries and a glut of disadvantaged people.” (Oudenampsen, 2009).  When the shipyard closed in 1984, the area around it became “stigmatized as a poor neighbourhood populated by immigrants and former labourers from the now defunct shipping industry” (Havik & Pllumbi, 2020, p.291).

The story of the redevelopment of NDSM begins in the late 90s, and it is somewhat unusual, being rooted in Amsterdam’s countercultural squatting scene. In the 1990s, having been evicted from numerous sites on the south bank of the river, the squatting scene appropriated NDSM. At around the same time, while still evicting many squatted sites, the municipality started to recognise the cultural potential of these underground hubs. A new policy, named ‘breeding places’ was thus put in place to support and legalise these kinds of initiatives. NDSM was turned into a cultural ‘incubator’; a “creative hub with artist studios, theatre spaces, a skate park and other facilities for cultural production” (Havik & Pllumbi, 2020, p.290).

In recent years, multinational companies have opened offices here, and thousands of new homes have been built; developers and corporations both keen to capitalise on the cultural cache of the area that exists as a result of an underground arts scene. NDSM is now home to the Amsterdam offices of Paramount, Pernod Ricard and has its own Hilton hotel. The new apartments being built around the area go on the market at a price point that is beyond many of the residents of Amsterdam Noord.

'Soundpaths: NDSM' aims in some way to engage with the entirety of the timeline detailed above. It draws parallels between the industrial soundscapes of the past and those of the present; once again the sounds of industry ring out at the wharf, but where once ships were constructed, now it is luxury homes. How has the particular history of the area led us to this present? What has been gained as the area has been redeveloped? What has been lost? In many ways the area is thriving and is still very much a creative centre, but what has been forgotten and who gets pushed aside? 


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The field recordings used in Soundpaths: NDSM include sounds that were captured throughout the performance area.

All of these field recordings were incorporated into the final work - some in their raw form, some after various degrees of processing. 



Soundpaths: Heptonstall: Using Placed Sound and Augmented Reality to Engage Audiences with the History of a Performance Location - Conference paper presented at Intangible Heritages Conference 2022, University of Kent, Canterbury, UK. DOWNLOAD

Taman Tugu: Interference/Resistance: Using Augmented Reality and Placed Sound to Engage Audiences with an Urban Jungle Soundscape - Book chapter in Ambiance, Tourism and the City (Routledge). BUY

Taman Tugu: Interference/Resistance: Addressing Urban Rewilding with a Musical Augmented Reality Experience - Conference paper presented at ISEA 2022: Possibles, CCCB, Barcelona, Spain. DOWNLOAD

Soundpaths: Moston & Harpurhey: The Remote Development of an Augmented Reality Musical Experience - Conference paper presented at Performance, Practice, and Process Conference 2022, Leeds Beckett University, UK. DOWNLOAD COMING SOON

Justice, Freedom, Peace, Memory; Using Locative Technology and Augmented Reality as Tools for Examining Location, History and Soundscape - Conference paper presented at ISSTA 2018: Who’s Listening? Sound and Public Space, Ulster University, Magee campus, Northern Ireland. DOWNLOAD 

Location Based Recording, Musical Performance and Production; Tools for Examining Landscape and History - Poster presented at Crosstown Traffic Conference 2018, University of Huddersfield, UK


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