PotentialCity: Participatory Augmented Audio Reality

I ‘m currently participating in an extension of a artistic project called “Potential City”, initiated by Gwenola Wagon and St├ęphane Degoutin, “which aims at increasing the potential of the Forum des Halles in Paris, to put it on scale with the Parisian metropolis.” In the initial version , every participants had a gps mobile phone. According to the location, the mobile launches sounds, voices or texts. “Each soundtrack describes an aspect of the architectural project, associated with a place in the garden: vertical development of space, Savage Mountain, Silence Cabin, Sex Park..”. Such kind of simple augmented audio reality project is not new. The idea I want to push is the democratization of the authoring side, normally restricted to the project initiators. The goal is to let people experiment not only the listening side , absorbing the reality of others, but also reinjecting their own vision by creating or contributing to any virtual reality via their mobile phones or a web interface. See below for further scenarios & screenshots


Everybody will be able to quickly record audiotracks with their gps mobile phones, about his/her stories, experience, opinion associated to his/her surrounding, constructing a collective and geolocalised memories attached to the urban space , and that could be re-experienced, re-listened by other people through this mobile infrastructure. I also added tagging/semantics feature to enable the creation of collaborative distinct layers i.e. contextual reality (that could be combined afterwards). The point was to build a infrastructure providing a full cycle of absorption & injection of (geo)tagged audiotracks for everybody, enabling a collaborative and evolutionary construction of different audio realities.
(This video below is actually the normal version, without the participatory aspects)


Such authoring feature could enable people to create and share:

  • audio tour guides (Culture/History)
  • geo-based music playlists (according where you’re going the music played will change) (Music)
  • audio & geo localized reminders (Personal Management)
  • imaginary novels/stories (StoryTelling),
  • comments about urban-related issues / projection of future urban spaces (Urban planning/Architecture).


Compared to a common geo audio augmented reality project, I added:

  • Continuity in the space The common way to link web content with physical world is to use a specify location, a point. I use areas with fade in / fade out to emphasize a notion of continuity and smooth the binary aspect from the digital world(I’m in / I’m out
  • mixing spatial audio layers Possibility to have several sounds simultaneously (e.g. large ambiance covering an area and specific audio comments for more local place) from different layers (with fadein/fadeout for spatial mixing)
  • Semantic layer/network social tagging to create semantics and different layers of realities
  • People Participation in situ Possibility to create record soundscape and update maps from the mobile phone to enable participation from listeners


Here are some pictures from their websites.

A circle represents the place of a soundtrack

Interface of the iphone version and the participatory web site

More information about the previous (not participatory) version of this project .

related articles

Programme Potential City


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