Project 1: Experiencing Greenwich Village
In the traditional classroom cultural studies are limited to text based approaches, which can be supplemented with occasional audio and visual recordings. A New York based education has the benefit of allowing students access to many of the places where the cultural products they read about were produced. “Experiencing Greenwich Village” is an augmented reality app that expands the cultural classroom into the City itself. The app provides the user with a real-time, spatially embodied experience of Greenwich Village; while simultaneously, providing a unique glimpse into the cultural past.
Faculty Felicia– Felicia is an English literature professor at a CUNY community college. She is looking to enhance her teaching of early 20th century American literature. She has tried to incorporate audio and video into her powerpoint lectures but still finds that students do not connect the literature to the larger cultural zeitgeist.
Dyslexic Dolly- Dolly is very interested in the subject Felicia is teaching and wants to learn; however, she struggles with reading and has a hard time getting through some of the material.
Disinterested Darren- Darren doesn’t see the point in studying literature or culture. He sees these academic pursuits as dusty books that have no relevance to his lived experience.
Tina Tourista- Tina is a middle aged woman from the Midwest. She is a tourist who travels the world looking for unique experiences that allow her to feel as if she has walked into a different time period (Very much like Owen Wilson in Woody Allen’s Midnight in Paris).
Felicia heard about the app though discussion on the CUNY Academic Commons and thought it would be a perfect solution for her class on Early 20th century American literature. She assigned her students to use the app to explore Greenwich Village and its cultural history and write a paper about their experience. Dolly found the experience of approaching the text from this direction to be liberating because it allowed her to experience the texts through her body and bypass her reading difficulties. By walking through Greenwich Village and seeing connections ad differences between current Village culture and historical culture, Darren is able to see culture and literature as a lived experience rather than just words in a dusty book.
Tina Tourista found the app in the app store of her phone and downloaded it for her recent trip to NYC. While not in a structured course, Tina is excited to learn about the history of the city while walking and seeing the current sites.
Full Version and Time Expectations
The full version of “Experiencing Greenwich Village” would include multiple periods of Greenwich Village cultural history which would be experienced through a geo-located soundscape (including musical compositions, significant documents, letters, diaries, poems, etc.) combined with an augmented reality app that would provide historical images and textual information about the locations and aural selections. Ideally, these periods would be experienced diachronically where moving through space would also be moving through time (as in Allen’s Midnight in Paris). The app would also provide a filter option in which a single period could be experienced.
I expect this project would take approximately three years for completion. It would take a little bit of time for me to learn the specific programming for the mobile app. However, I tend to pick up programming languages fairly quickly. I suspect the bulk of the time would be spent creating the aural collection and making the requisite recordings that would be necessary. Another major time consideration would be negotiating with museums and archives for access to collections and funding partnerships.
Reduced Version and Time Expectations
A reduced version of the app would simplify to only a single period of Village culture such as the 1930s or Beatnik period. The reduced app would also only focus on the sonic mapping aspect.
I expect this version would reduce the amount of time to a year to 18 months. I would still need to learn the programming for the sonic mapping and would negotiate access to collections; however, time is saved by removing the image and text aspects of the augmented reality and reducing the amount of material that must be collected.