Interactive

The Soundscape of LA Via GPS


LOS ANGELES — For LA’s drivers, the city passes by in a blur, a city protected by glass and one’s own soundtrack. Every experienced Angeleno has a driving mix, a series of podcasts, and, of course, favorite radio stations, to keep them occupied while scooting (or crawling) around town. LA is often a city that’s seen but so rarely heard.

Made in LA, a biennial exhibition occurring across multiple venues in Los Angeles, is a great way to unify the city’s sprawling art scene. But attending the events requires travel, and lots of it, as you traverse Venice Beach and Westwood and Culver City in search of good California art. And where better to experience LA than in transit?

Enter the Made in LA Sound Map, a GPS-based iPhone app that detects where you are and automatically plays an interview. Here’s what the creators had to say:

So if a listener was traveling down 7th street past all of the fabric stores, Made in L.A. artist Michele O’Marah would be talking about how the fashion district in downtown LA was a huge inspiration to her. They call this a locative media experience. The audio is triggered by GPS, which is tracking your location as you use the app.

What results is interviews that pop up as you drive across town, as artists recount memories and interviews of the work they make. It’s an amazing way to peek behind the postmodern curtain of Los Angeles, a city seemingly devoid of history and character and understand the hidden voices and creative presence not immediately obvious.

The only downside of the app is that it does require you to physically be in the proper location. Otherwise, there’s no way to access the interviews and content. This is a clever way to force the experience but leaves the app inaccessible to those outside the geographic area or who may never visit Los Angeles during the exhibition run. Hopefully the interviews will be available soon.

For those of you not able to attend, the Hammer Museum has made available the outtake for Animal Charm’s interview, featuring a stuttering attempt to create a smooth introduction:

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