Sudbury·Audio

An art installation in South River that you can experience from your home

A Canadian radio veteran has spearheaded the creation of an interactive radio and storytelling experience that you can do from home.

Installation takes decades-old audio recordings and adapts them to interactive story-telling experiences

The more you look at any particular image in the Story Trees exhibit, the blend of voices becomes richer and more nuanced, creator Don Hill says. (Don Hill/YouTube)

A Canadian radio veteran with roots in Sudbury has created an interactive radio and storytelling experience that you can do from home.

Don Hill's installation, called Story Trees, is part of the Deep Wireless Festival of Radio and Transmission Art, at the media centre, NAISA, in South River. The Festival is being held online until March 29.

It's a sound art installation, with a visual component, that takes decades-old audio recordings and adapts them to interactive story-telling experiences.

Listening to the old tapes again inspired Hill to delve into the project.

Creator Don Hill says the Story Trees software algorithm will change the conversation or blend different voices in such a way that is unique to the viewer. (storytrees.ca)

"What I found was that northern Ontario had a kind of a dialect. It wasn't French, it wasn't English, it was something completely different. It was how we spoke at the time, the pauses, the delays, the little inflections and gestures," he told Morning North CBC host Markus Schwabe.

"I heard all this back when I was digitizing these old tapes that were just about to fall apart, and then it struck me in a way that we just don't hear that sound anymore. We don't hear people speaking like that anymore. "

Hill and his creative team got to work on the project, which incorporates facial recognition software.

"The idea was that, when you listen to these recordings your face changes, whether you smile or make a gesture or you move around, is that the voices change," he said.

"And if you hear something you don't particularly care for or upsets you — because there are some things in the conversations that reflect an era of conversation in northern Ontario — the Story Trees software algorithm will change the conversation or blend different voices in such a way that you have a kind of a wash, an aggregate."

He says when people engage in the Story Trees installation, they are hearing "echoes of an era blended together in such a way that something else emerges that isn't necessarily accounted for by the conversations alone."

Hill says it is hoped the installation will help people learn how to listen to each other.

"What Story Trees does is, you have to slow down and not wait for the quick hit — it evolves. It's never the same way twice. There is a built-in — what we call — latency, that the more you watch these particular images in particular, the more other sounds and conversation emerges," he said.

"Something happens when we all slow down and listen very carefully to each other with intention and empathy with what the other person is saying. That's about the best way I can describe it."

with files from Markus Schwabe

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