Overlooked, Overheard is an Augmented Reality listening experience that looks at how our city is maintained in ways that we can’t see. Audiences can explore a neighborhood either through two guided events or at their own pace and hear music representing various city projects that don’t necessarily leave any visual indicator.
The focus of this piece is two separate neighborhoods in the city of Austin: Govalle and Highland. Existing at opposite ends of the Airport Boulevard corridor, they have a number of similarities and differences. Both are walkable areas that welcome exploration
Did you enjoy your experience? We’re so glad. If you’re in a position to support the project financially, we’d really appreciate it. Thanks!
To experience Overlooked, Overheard, you need the app ECHOES installed on your smartphone. It is free on both the Android Play Store and iTunes App Store. It is also best experienced with headphones. You can find more out about ECHOES at its website here.
Once you have the app downloaded, look for “Overlooked, Overheard.” Each neighborhood is divided into four separate walks, to make it easier to download what you need and leave what you won’t. I highly recommend you download the walks you’ll be using before leaving the house, since they’re a few hundred MBs each. If you’re going to walk from one part of the neighborhood to another, just switch the walk in ECHOES when you get to that new area.
You can also follow links for each walk here.
You’ll be able to experience Overlooked, Overheard starting on June 1st. Additionally, we’ll have two guided walks during the month of June. On June 12, we’ll be guiding people on a loop through the Govalle Neighborhood, starting at Parque Zaragoza Neighborhood Park. One June 19, we’ll be doing the same in Highland, starting at Highland Neighborhood Park. Both will start at 10am. Following the walk, we’ll sit down to talk about the experience. For more information and to reserve a spot, click here.
Additionally, I’ll be giving a workshop on June 16th on Zoom, where I’ll demonstrate how to create your own project through ECHOES. It’s a really amazing tool, and I hope I can inspire you to make your own project using the app!
So, what’s it sound like? It’s hard to give a representation of the entire range of music, but here’s a little snippet that involves a ROW obstruction, some street sweeping, a street light in need of repair, and a bit of standing water.
This project was conceived by Douglas Laustsen, a resident of Highland, a musician, and an educator. Much of his musical output involves technology, whether it’s making data more intelligible through sound or creating sound objects. As an educator, he teaches trombone and works with Austin Soundwaves. You can find more about him at his website here or see pictures of his kid on instagram.
Casie Luong (she/her) is a second generation Vietnamese American musician, actress, writer, and music educator residing in Austin, TX. From performing to self-producing and collaborating with other artists, her melodies and strong sense of storytelling engages her listeners to create honest, shared human experiences. Her latest single, Easy Lately was recently featured in Austin’s KUTX Song of the Day. As a music educator, Casie serves as Operations Director and Music Instructor at Mother Falcon Music Lab, an organization that provides students with opportunities to create music in a collaborative and multimedia setting. Her EP, Hero, is coming Summer 2021! When she isn’t making music, she is tending to her garden and working on her memoir.
Seetha Shivaswamy performs as a soloist and chamber musician in concerts throughout Europe, Asia, and North America. She has toured the USA with Global Rhythms World Music Ensemble, performed as a guest flutist with the Orquesta Sinfonica in Monterrey, Mexico, and performed a solo flute recital at the Hong Kong City Centre. She has toured internationally with and recorded for Grammy/Oscar winning composer A.R. Rahman, and is the featured flutist on his single ‘Pray for Me Brother’ written for the United Nations.
Henna Chou is a Geographic Information Systems Analyst and musician. She is volunteer steering team member of COTFG, a community organization dedicated to the proliferation of creative music and future-minded expressions. Chou has participates in ensembles and theater productions as a keyboardist, cellist, guitarist, or general sound artist.
I think it’s reasonable to wonder why I would go ahead and put all of this together. The truth is, I got this idea after having a long back and forth with someone on NextDoor (for those that don’t know about NextDoor, it’s like a neighborhood specific facebook). Basically, she was upset about an increase in taxes, especially since she couldn’t think of anything her taxes went to that felt useful, besides libraries. Now, I love libraries, but I couldn’t help but think that the reason she didn’t see value in how her taxes were spent had to do with the fact that much of what the city does is maintaining. The spot light may focus on innovation like new projects and facilities, leaving many to view the work of maintainers as lesser. The complex network of infrastructure we rely on to get through each day needs to be managed, and I thought it would be interesting to highlight that within a neighborhood. Using the City of Austin Open Data Portal, I collected work reports for projects that left little or no trace of their completion. Hopefully, engaging in this experience will give people an opportunity to understand the size and scale of the work that goes into keeping our city functional, livable, and enjoyable for everyone who lives here.