I recently did a microsite for a client here in Berlin that turned into one of my favorite web projects so far. The Hearing View Rheinau site is a documentation of the work of Sam Auinger and Bruce Odland; specifically, of a sound installation they did at a clinic in Switzerland by that name.
The artists and their production team took four trips into the woods around the Rhine, near the German / Swiss border where the clinic is located, and recorded and generated sounds of the natural environment. What’s perhaps most unique and fascinating about this project is the process of sound gathering, in which the artists didn’t just passively record sound, but interacted with the natural landscape.
For example, snow was made audible through use of a ‘snowharp’ where a contact microphone picked up the impact of snowflakes dropping on a wire. Similarly, the ‘rhineharp’ was an improvised instrument used to bow through the river and trace its motion through sound.
The website was based on the clean, minimalist work Stefan Fiedler, a book and publications designer in Berlin, did to present the process of gathering these sounds in a printed document. I rethought the architecture and adapted for the web, starting with a responsive grid to collapse to smaller screens.
Then I introduced pop-ups for the large images and a sound bar on the ‘sound library’ pages, with an unobtrusive custom sound player, so site visitors can listen to the sonic textures as they browse the site. A video page added another online-only component, so you can watch the “treerimba” in action.