Claire Mitchell
Engin Ayaz
Patrick Muth


Swings is a site-specific interactive piece that creates an immersive auditory experience, where multiple sounds, noise and narratives are layered via swinging patterns of the user. SpatialMedia/Project2_swing_mar28.pdf

Spatial Media

Swings are at once exhilarating and calming. By proposing to integrate interactive swings among the existing architectural structures of the urban environment, we allow people to remain immersed in the context of the city, while encouraging reflection, and appreciation of the layered history. In the ITP show context, we will demonstrate the experience of an interactive swing, and invite the user to imagine the manifestations of this setup in different parts of New York City. Technically, the project uses the iPhone to pull in acceleration data, uses openFrameworks to modify and layer the samples, and bluetooth speakers for sound output. To emphasize environmental stewardship, the design of the swings incorporates salvaged wood and organic manila rope.

We researched possible sites for installation, audio recording options, iPhone application development process (Objective C and openFrameworks), and swing construction methods. After weeks of iteration, we have settled on a former mannequin factory that has been converted into an A.I.R. building in Williamsburg as a speculative site and decided to use a combination of sewing machines, children at playground and ambient sounds. For the ITP show, we will refer to the site-specific nature of the work by projecting images from that site across the user.

Our audience is any adult who is longing for the swinging experience (hard to come by in nyc), or any child that would be interested in swinging outside the playground context. We are also interested in turning this into a city-wide project, with multiple installation sites, so anyone who is well-connected to public space areas in the city is our targeted audience for next steps.

User Scenario
The user is intrigued by the swing. A small piece of writing indicates "swings is an interactive installation. please download the "swings" app from the itunes store, turn on your bluetooth, and insert your phone below." The user quickly downloads the free app, and inserts his/her phone underneath the swing. The soft padding in the dedicated slot underneath the swing prevents the phone from being scratched or falling during the swinging action. As the user starts swinging, multiple sounds are subtly layered. These sounds emanate from the bluetooth-connected speakers hanging above. The user slowly realizes the dynamics of the system: - The longer someone keeps swinging, the more sounds are introduced to the system. - There is a "sweet spot" of swinging cadence that reveals each sound layer in its full clarity. The system does not encourage the "microphone phenomenon", i.e. shout into the microphone or swing as high as possible. Instead, the system suggests a repetitive, mid-force swinging experience for reflection.

- The fade-in and fade-out effects are used to transition between different states: the start, the middle, and the end.

The swing is constructed out of salvaged wood from an old Singer sewing machine crate and organic manila rope, with small pieces of black foam used as protective material for the iPhone. The bluetooth speakers are used as output, and will be securely hung at the ceiling.

We realized that openFrameworks' iPhone library is very user-friendly and appropriate for projects such as swings, and Objective C is a bit more complex and seemingly cryptic.

We learned that testing the project with the swing, rather than a hypothetical swinging motion, helped us make progress much faster in terms of mapping the sounds. We were afraid to have iPhones or swing prototypes broken in the process, but nothing happened at the end of the day.