Sunday, November 2, 2008

Our First Soundslides Piece: Discovering Route 20

If you have seen the photos documenting the exploration over at, you already know that we've been quite obsessed with exploring Route 20, just west of Albany, NY this autumn. We also have become interested in creating short audio documentaries after my (Erin's) time at the Salt Institute for Documentary Studies in combination with Eric's knowledge of sound recording and editing. We had actually both signed up for a Digital Storytelling workshop at The Sanctuary for Independent Media in Troy, NY in mid-October, but could not think of a story worth telling in the days leading up to the workshop. When the day of the workshop arrived, we both backed out for fear of having nothing to create and instead traveled back west down Route 20 in search of the tourist cabins that had caught our attention a few weeks prior. It was here that we found the inspiration to create our short audio story.

We used the most basic of equipment for this project: a small Sony cassette recorder, microphone, and a number of (film) cameras. The intent was to document the perspective of a modern day traveler, exploring the remnants of the former tourism route's rich history. We also made the decision to interview one another for our first project because we 1) didn't know anyone else and 2) didn't happen to encounter anyone to interview during the trip. It would have been ideal to have the opportunity to interview those who remember these cabins in use, as well as travelers who may have actually stayed in them at one point.

There are several tourist cabin colonies and motor court motels lining the route, several of the latter still in operation. We have been back to explore them with hopes of expanding this project. With the introduction of the Soundslides software and Cakewalk, there should be more audio projects to come. I know already that I have an oral history project that is due very soon for school. We are looking into other sound recorders, but are quite pleased with what our very basic equipment produced this time around.

The blog creation was also simply a way to post Soundslides projects without the annoying advertisements that are posted alongside them with the free web server URL, from WebNG, that we are using. I figure it will also be a way to post future stories and images associated with my/our explorations of the area outside of flickr.

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