The collective sound experience focuses on how sound functions to immerse listeners into a moment in history, providing a sense of how and to what extent an experience of public address is a fully embodied experience. Audiences engage audiences engage in guided listening of the different sound experiences of King’s 1960 speech, “A Creative Protest [Fill up the Jails].”
Collective Experience of the Virtual MLK Project
On June 8, 2014, scholars from NC State University partnered with the White Rock Baptist Church congregation, the Durham Ministerial Alliance, political leaders, and the surrounding communities to stage a public recreation of the speech. The recordings from that event are the basis for the 3D audio-visual installations of the vMLK project. The collective sound experience, the listening experiences and the gaming and VR experiences all demonstrate the location-based function of sound by focusing attention on how the sound of King’s voice (as re-created by Mr. Blanks) and of the congregation (the people who gathered for the re-creation event) function to immerse visitors/audiences in the experience of the speech. When audience members are physically close to the image of King at the front of the sanctuary (whether in a physical exhibition space with images projects on walls or in the gaming platform with headphones or in the Oculus Rift headset) they hear his voice as if they were sitting directly in front of him on that night in 1960. If they move to the center of the room, they hear his voice at more of a distance and they hear the congregation around them, engaging in call and response with the speaker. As they move to the back of the room, they hear the amplification of the speaker’s voice and the voices of the congregation more in front of them than around or beside or in back of them., signaling to the visitors the distance between their own bodies and both the voice of the speaker and the rest of the congregation. In this way, visitors are guided to consider how their position or location in the space — and more generally, how one’s physical relationship to the sound of the speaker and to others –impacts their experience of the speech. The components of the vMLK project thus demonstrate how the connection between sound and image acts powerfully on the body to bring about an attention and awareness that invites a response.