CATEGORY: UX, Behavior Design, Audio
TOOLKITS: Zoom H4N, Google Drive
COLLABORATORS: Gal Nissim
ROLE: Project Development, Project Management, Research, User Testing, Script Writing, Vocal Talent
The Synanthrope Preserve: Pigeon Walk is an audio tour that encourages listeners to see New York City as a habitat shared between human and animal residents. The guide leads visitors through Washington Square Park, highlighting areas with animal activity. We used binaural recording to create an immersive, personal experience that makes listeners feel deeply connected to the environment around them. By the end of the walk, listeners will know more about the animals they share the city with and what they can do to live harmoniously with the urban wildlife.
Synanthropic animals are animals that live and thrive close to humans, such as squirrels, raccoons, pigeon, seagulls, and rats. This project shows that these animals are not interlopers, this is their habitat. The experience is targeted at two groups: those who like and feed the pigeons and those who do not like pigeons. We hope that people who feed the pigeons will stop feeding them after listening to the tour and that people who dislike pigeons will accept their place in the urban habitat.
We began this project by researching the life, behavior, habitat, and history of the rock pigeon. We also interviewed park goers to find out their thoughts, opinions, and behaviors around city animals. Then, we visited several possible locations for the project. Ultimately, we decided to set the tour in Washington Square Park. After we chose the park, we mapped and timed the tour path. We wanted to make a tour around 15 minutes, so people could easily listen to it while on their lunch hour in the park.
We recorded the background for the audio tour using binaural recording. This technique give the illusion that sound is moving in space around the listener. We used this effect to create an emotional connection between the listener and the audio content. We believe that it is easier to change someone's mind through the combination of emotional connection and the intimate feeling of an audio guide.
We tested the Synanthrope Preserve: Pigeon Walk with about 20 people total. A few listeners had trouble knowing where to stand during the tour, but overall feedback was very positive. Listeners found the content interesting and the format very compelling.
Davidson, Adam, and Adam McKay. "#9 Pigeons." Audio blog post. #9 Pigeons. Gimlet Media, 22 Mar. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016.
Felder, Simcha, Michael Casertano, and Ashley Roberts. Curbing the Pigeon Conundrum. Rep. New York: Office of Hon. Simcha Felder Council Member, 44th District, 2007. Print.
Johnson, Nathanael. Unseen City: The Majesty of Pigeons, the Discreet Charm of Snails & Other Wonders of the Urban Wilderness. New York, NY: Rodale, 2016. Print.