What I have tried to do with “Our Music, Our City” is pitch a project that will be valuable and rewarding to the participants, while also drawing in interest and engagement from a wider audience. The 12 musicians/bands involved gain a valuable opportunity to record and publicise a live performance of their music. The album would be produced over a short period of time, fostering a sense of excitement and event. Young, up-and-coming musicians mix a strong DIY entrepreneurial spirit with a sense of local community which it is hoped would add an excitement to the footage. They also tend to have a following of fans who are willing to trust the artists in new creative ventures and have often come to know the quirkier parts of their home cities. This makes them trend setters and unexpected city guides.
In addition to bringing existing fans to a new technology and way of experiencing the artists, it is hoped that new music will be a motivating factor in drawing interest from a wider city audience to the project. The bands choose a favourite city location, and are interviewed about the spot they have chosen before their performance. This acts as an introduction to unusual and interesting local information. The album as a whole forms an alternative guide to the city, drawing people from place to place – some traditional city sights, some more unusual.
Finally, there is a reward for visiting all 12 locations on the album map. It is only then that a unique web address is generated for the player to later download mp3s and ‘album art’ to keep. This ‘Pokemon’ style gaming quality borrows from ludic theory of motivation and playability. The map interface would similarly use ‘juicy’ game graphics and sound design to heighten a sense of play.
With this project I hope to make the technical side of GPS disappear into the background, letting young energetic voices express a sense of fun and discovery in the city. I also hope to explore the possibilities of mapping and live performance, and to create a media project that has enough appeal that people will seek it out to download and play. Location based media can sometimes feel like disposable elements that garner interest only in the context of a festival, research project or special event. Big city games for example bring a large level of interaction and value to those involved from the start, but it is difficult in practice to seek out ‘viral’ participation from those initially unconnected. There are also locative projects that are intended to be permanent – lasting many years and tied to a particular sense of place. Walks and guides often fall into this second category. These can, at times, lack a feeling of spectacle, and can find it difficult to build initial ground swell. “Our Music, Our City” hopes to straddle this spectrum, with both a strong sense of event, and a lasting artefact marking a time and place.