Oh Europa

Oh Europa is a geolocated collection of love songs recorded and shared on-site throughout Europe by Action Hero, an artist collective that “create arenas for the collision of action and ideas.”

I accessed the piece using the Oh Europa app in Christiania in the middle of Copenhagen. As I walked through the gate on a sunny Saturday afternoon and moved into one of Denmark’s most well known tourist attractions with earbuds in, the silence was suddenly replaced with the white noise of a radio between stations. The noise only lasted a couple of seconds before the Oh Europa feed started playing.

Oh Europa

The songs in my ears were sung by one or two people at a time but with no instruments, so the background bled in as I walked past the cannabis dealers with tattooed up necks and tourists craning their necks to take in the scenery.

904 love songs make up the ever playing feed, that has been collected by the artists Gemma Paintin and James Stenhouse as they travelled 38,205 kilometers across Europe in their rolling studio. Mostly to stop and record near borders of different kinds.

This simple but beautiful form of audio AR enhances numerous locations throughout Europe with on-site music, reminding us that wherever we go, there are people in love and people expressing their love for each other.

Hear/Augment App

This is the evolution of the amazing RjDj app from way back. I wasn’t sure at first if it qualified as audio AR because it takes the naturally occurring audio in one’s environment and processes it in real-time to create your own personalized audio environment rather than placing entirely new audio content into the listener’s audioscape. But this is one of the things that makes it so cool and unique. And if I follow our own criteria for what defines audio AR, this still fits the bill:

  • it relates to the listener’s physical environment through the natural sounds nearby
  • you interact with it by making sounds that are processed in real-time
  • it is an entirely audio-based experience

I’m not sure what filter I like the best, but they are all fun to play around with. Apparently, this new reincarnation is supposed to use the filtering to create an environment that is more conducive to good health. I’m not sold on that per se, but find the experience enjoyable and a good way to be more in tune with the sounds in your environment.

The Augment app filters your acoustic environment, takes out harsh sounds and turns stressful noise into harmonic sound environments.


Their branding is a bit confusing as I’m not sure if the app is officially called “Augment” or “Hear”, but either way, it is worth checking out.

You can download the free iOS app from the App Store: Hear App

Be Here Stories

Be Here Stories is a collaboration between the Museums on Main Street group at the Smithsonian and the MuseWeb Foundation. The project is designed to collect stories from rural America and share them not only when on-site, but also more broadly. Though this project has several components, at its core is the ability for participants to create geo-tagged stories that are subsequently available for consumption in their relevant locations.

Be Here Stories not only shares rich stories about America’s towns and waterways but also connects people, businesses, communities, and cultural institutions through storytelling.

Museweb Website

There is an iOS app for mobile listening and recording, but there is also a web interface that allows participants to listen in a non-geo-specific way as well as contribute recordings. The web interface also includes a map that plots all of the recordings in the database and allows them to be explored and listened to via a standard Google maps interface:

Be Here Stories Participation Map

Be Here Stories Map

You can download the free iOS app from the App Store: Be Here Stories

Roundware Demo App

If you want to try out adding your own content to an AAR landscape, check out the demo Roundware iOS app.

This app is intended to demonstrate the core Listen and Speak features of the Roundware platform. It includes an ambient soundtrack along with recordings located throughout the landscape that were made by other demo app participants using the Speak feature.

There is no specific project, artwork or educational experience associated with this app since it is designed to be a demo, but it does allow people to make their own recordings in their locale and experiment with how the platform works.

You can download the free iOS app from the App Store: Roundware iOS Demo

Field Notes: From Here to Where

Most of my work combines musical elements and field recordings, and I often create audio environments that augment the physical landscape. I take a landscape and create an ambient layer of music that changes depending on where the listener is located. Within that ambient layer of music I add field recordings and spoken-voice recordings. Often, I collect voices from people asking them about their feelings or thoughts on certain topics, and then assimilate those voices, cutting them up and splicing them into musical installations.

To experience one of my installations, listeners use a custom smartphone app or website. As you walk through space, you hear a unique version of the piece based on your location and path. I often let participants use the same interface to add recordings of their own in real-time, which gives me even less control over the final product! As a participant, you can, for example, be standing next to a tree and press record and talk about what that tree reminds you of. The recording will be uploaded to a central repository, and the next person who walks by can hear you talking about how the tree reminds you of your grandmother’s house when you were a kid, swinging on a swing beneath her tree.

Read the full conversation with Halsey Burgund and fellow artists Rashin Fahandej and Andrew Demirjian here: Sound That Surrounds

I developed a contributory audio augmented reality platform called Roundware to support these installations. Rather than creating a static, fully-developed piece, I use Roundware to create a framework within which people can contribute and which continues to change over time.

From Here To Where is an audio installation designed to be experienced by people as they travel between Denver and the high plains of the Rockies, where Re/Call, the commissioning entity for this piece, was staging a weekend-long event. I was interested in the transition from the city to the country and, since most participants traveled more or less on the same path, I thought that was an opportunity.

You start in the city, travel through city streets, then the foothills, past a series of plateaus, up into higher elevations, and, finally, over a pass into the vast open space of South Park. The audio experience acts as a complementary emotional journey that brings the listener from the city out into a place that is vastly different, a place dominated by nature.

Depending on whether listeners drive straight through or choose to pause along the route, the piece adjusts and plays a unique version for each trip. I intended to make a comparison between the physical journey and a trip back in time to an earlier moment, when human beings didn’t have quite the same influence over the planet. The theme of the event was extinction and our effect on the planet. I wanted to create space for reflection about the extent of the change that has taken place over the last century or two, in terms of human influence on climate, the landscape, the audioscape.

I relied on collections of environmental sounds made by birds and other wildlife, as well as ambient natural audio to compose the entirety of From Here To Where. No synthesizers or “instruments” of any kind were used, though I did process the sounds in sections to generate desired effects.

Sample audio experience of the entire From Here to Where journey

The piece begins in Denver, so I used some anthropogenic (created by human activity) audio recordings there and, more importantly, I took natural sounds of birds, whales, and other animals and slowed them down, sped them up, re-pitched them and otherwise exerted an analogous kind of perversion on them that humanity has been exerting on the natural world for a century or more. The audio becomes increasingly more pure and less modified as the journey continues so that by the time you arrive at the destination, you are physically surrounded by vast swaths of relatively untouched nature and the accompanying audio is similarly unadulterated.

The From Here to Where iOS app can be downloaded from the App Store: From Here to Where iOS App

A version of this piece, edited from an interview with Halsey Burgund by Helen Thorpe, originally appeared in the Re/Call event ‘zine in September 2018. Learn more about my work at halseyburgund.com.

This article was commissioned by and originally published on Immerse. It is cross-posted here with permission and much appreciation.