Archivi tag: contact mic

A soundwalk with mics under your shoes to record the tactile sensation of walking


During a residency module (2nd-6th of November, 2015) at Fondazione Pistoletto – Cittadellarte in Biella (IT), called Creating Territorialities (part of Unidee – Territoriality, Identity, Place and Possession; mentors G. Checola and T. Gliardi) I proposed a way to record the tactile sensation perceived by feet while walking.

The idea is to use contact mics attached to the shoe soles in order to record the vibration phenomena happening in the soles themselves. A great deal of low frequencies are present in the recording, which actually represent the most tactile portion of the spectrum.

The following video contains a test-walk recorded in Cittadellarte on November 5th, 2015. You should use good headphones if you want to catch the tiniest sonic details (for example, the metal resonances of the staircase). Gear used: 2x AKG C411, Zoom Handy Recorder, GoPro 3+ (thanks Lorenza Ippolito). Ah, you can watch it in full HD, 50fps.

A device may then be built in order to recreate the tactile sensation: two wooden boards equipped with vibration speakers, on which the “user” can put his/her feet. In the future I may try to realize this device int he near future. For now this project remains a provocative/question-triggering proposal between art, design and geography/geophilosophy.

Tactile map

(Pictures: Vittoria Soddu)


A map of tactile relationship between foot and soil

1. A person walks paths with two contact microphones attached to the bottom of his/her shoes.

2. The resulting recording is a (sonic) representation of the tactile perception of his/her feet while walking.

3. By playing back the sound with contact transducers attached to (e. g. wooden) boards, the recorded tactile sensation is returned to another person who has his/her feet on them.



Scenario 1

You are hiking in Venezuela and you are streaming live the tactile sensation to your father in Biella, who is comfortably sitting on his sofa and enjoying a drink.
The live stream could be public and thousands more people could be actually foot-connected to your experience.

Scenario 2

Thousands of different people have mapped most part of the earth by walking everywhere in different shoes, seasons, weather conditions, speeds… Everything has been inserted into a multi-dimensional map which takes into account variables such as

  • weather (different tactile sensation with snow, rain, …);

  • physical conditions of the walker (weigth, speed, …);

  • steepness of the terrain;

and so on.

This map is a description (an analytical one) of the tactile sensation induced by the ground. Musical implications include the possibilities to see the territories as sound textures (granular/smooth, dry/resonating, pulsating/rhythmically uneven, …).




➥ Augmenting the body of impaired people in order to experience the territory in different ways, or without leaving their homes.

➥ Possible medical use as (part of) a therapy of stimulation of the body, also recalling previous experiences in nature of the patient (T. Gilardi).