The space is full of sound from other multimedia, including videos and interactive kiosks. The risk was that adding audio for these figures could be distracting or even seem chaotic for visitors. It was vital that engaging with each statue felt like a standalone moment with a person, but that, together, the audio became part of a bigger experience. We needed to find a way to make all the sound in the space form one cohesive, immersive, inspiring soundscape.
We also needed to use our technical audio expertise to improve existing sound recordings created for each of the figures. The voices were diverse and cast by a theater director, but were recorded by different people in different locations, so we needed to make them sound consistent and natural to the park location.
This project kicked off right at the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, which led to difficulty accessing design documents, floor plans, and assets that were stored on a server on site that had been shut down. So we got creative within our new constraints. We poured over floor plans. We organised video walkthroughs. We called the original exhibition designer, as well as the architect and site staff. In this way, we were able to envisage the challenges of the space and test different speaker set-up options from the safety of our own homes. Then, when the time was right, a safe site visit was organised where we could assess the sounds that already existed in the space and how these speaking figures would fit within the wider context.
This was about increasing the value of the experience for visitors by really focusing on the stories of those individuals and drawing out the fact that contributions to the war were really multiracial, and socioeconomically diverse. These women were incredible pioneers, real heroes, and they had different perspectives and attitudes that the audio stories bring to life.
– Jason Reinier,
Sound Designer, Art Processors
We stripped back each audio track so they felt consistent throughout the experience. Any background interference was reduced and everything was made to sound as natural as possible. We then added background sound effects that brought the stories to life – music, ambient sounds of riveting and welding, and street sounds. We paid special attention to how those sounds interacted with the already existing sounds in the space so there was no clashing with other background soundscapes.
We added a new soundpoint for each figure so that it appears as if each one is speaking. The speakers are located in concealed areas and are directed to the best spot for visitor interaction.
Rather than setting up the audio to automatically trigger when a visitor is near a figure, visitors press a button. In this way, we created moments that people can truly engage in: they physically tune into that person’s story and know that they are speaking to them.