ITP Alumni release App for Museum at Eldridge Street
“Storywalks at Eldridge Street” is a site-specific smartphone application that infuses the landmark Eldridge Street Synagogue with the voices of past congregants; it makes these voices available to the public for the first time.
Dedicated in 1887, the Eldridge Street Synagogue is a breathtaking National Historic Landmark that was a place of sanctuary, support, and inspiration for thousands of Jewish immigrants living on or near New York City’s Lower East Side.
“Storywalks at Eldridge Street“ offers visitors a story told in the congregant’s own words, their voices infused with traditional Jewish music – including prayers sung by renowned cantor Edward Smith, son of Eldridge Street congregant Max Smith, whose voice is also featured in the app – as well as environmental sounds recorded on-site, and an immersive musical soundscape. Visitors explore the synagogue through a nonlinear narrative, triggering audio “hotspots” with a tap to dynamically mix a “storywalk” that reveals congregant memories of what it was like to be a Jewish immigrant living on the Lower East Side in the 1920s, 30s, and 40s.
This public art piece is a collaboration between the Museum at Eldridge Street, Carlin M. Wragg (Producer and Narrative Designer) and Anna Pinkas (Visual and Interaction Designer), with custom software by creative technologists Chien-Yu Lin and Lia Martinez, a soundscape composed by musician Mercedes Blasco, and location recording and sound mixing by Ryan Billia.
Storywalks grew out of a class project at ITP, where the artists were students, and successfully crowdsourced all funding through Kickstarter.