George Drake Jr You recording yet?
Craig Shank Yeah.
George Drake Jr. Ok. Mark it.
Craig Shank I’m Craig Shank
George Drake Jr. And I’m George Drake Jr.
Craig Shank This is Everything Sounds. George, before we start I want to ask you a question.
George Drake Jr. Shoot.
Craig Shank What do you think when you hear the term ‘sensory path’?
George Drake Jr. Sensory path. Ok, let’s see. I’m envisioning some sort of electrical connection from the lobes of the brain that control the senses…uh…you’re giving me a look like I’m not right at all…
Craig Shank Well I can’t say that you’re not, but in this circumstance you’re definitely wrong.
George Drake Jr. Ok…
Craig Shank What if I told you it was an actual path?
George Drake Jr. Oh, so the sensory path is an actual path. Maybe one with animals that make noise and scratch and sniff flowers? That type of thing?
Craig Shank Almost. It’s actually in a parking lot…in Indianapolis.
George Drake Jr. Ok. So, maybe since it’s in a parking lot they recreated the sound and smell of nature.
Craig Shank Not even close.
George Drake Jr. Ok, so what are you talking about exactly? What is this?
Craig Shank It’s actually a part of the Indianapolis Arts Centre but I think…
Patrick Flaherty …Patrick Flaherty, director of exhibitions…
Craig Shank …and…
Ben Shine …Ben Shine, director of communications…
Craig Shank ….could do a better job at describing what the IAC is than I ever could.
Patrick Flaherty We are primarily an art education facility. We offer classes for two year olds on up. We don’t do any kind of degrees or certification. And as far as the art that we show, we support living artists. So, we’re not a collecting institution. So, we have exhibitions, education, as well as a robust outreach program which has fifteen sites that serve under-served kids in the community, but we have about two thousand students a semester; offering anything from drawing classes to glass blowing, casting, metalsmithing, ceramics, or really, kind of more like a university setup, but at a community art center level when it comes to…you can just walk in off the street and take a class. There’s no admissions process or anything like that.
Craig Shank So the Sensory Path is near the side entrance of the Indianapolis Arts Center. It’s in the parking lot. From there, you can see rest of IAC. It’s just a regular sidewalk down the middle, but it’s surrounded by what looks like a long wooden pergola; Basically, just a long wooden structure. And all along this path are flowers and different plants native to Indiana and it has speakers which are spaced about 10-15 feet apart. Most of those are hidden by the plants on each side.
George Drake Jr. And let me guess…they play sounds?
Craig Shank Yeah. They do.
George Drake Jr. Called it. Called it.
Craig Shank Right. But they’re not the sounds you’d think they’d be.
George Drake Jr. What do you mean, like a babbling brook or crickets?
Craig Shank Again you’re not wrong. Just listen. As you’re walking down the path, you trigger motion sensors…
Patrick Flaherty …we have these really conspicuously placed speakers along this path…
Craig Shank …which play a series of sounds…
Patrick Flaherty …they’re very just banal normal sounds, but totally out of context and what happens…there’s a lot of life on this path, especially in the spring and summer with birds and insects and things making their own noises, and then to hear some conversations taken from dinner parties or a motorcycle starting up, all these things, but it’s out of context in such a way that it’s not jarring or spooky.
Craig Shank So, all of a sudden you’d hear…
George Drake Jr. Oh i get it now…
Craig Shank ….but then it changes.
George Drake Jr. Ah…some synth elevator music. Oh, woah, wait. The metal is still there, though.
Craig Shank Right, but then something else comes in.
George Drake Jr. So, basically it just plays a collage of different sounds and music as you make your way down the path.
Craig Shank Exactly.
Patrick Flaherty I just remember being excited about the fact that just something as simple as walking through a parking lot all of a sudden became a much more active thing. And I say, “Walking through a parking lot,”; It’s a very well-groomed landscaped pergola, but it was just an interesting way to activate the space and there’s no start and stop, like you don’t start a story. You don’t have to walk through the whole thing if you don’t want and it just kind of…
Ben Shine I was startled the first time because I wasn’t really aware of it and I knew it was a Sensory Path, but I didn’t think the noises would startle me as much as they did because I was focusing on the flowers and the butterflies and the, you know, the native plants we have planted out there. The way that you can’t tell exactly where it’s coming from…is it behind me? Is it around me? Is it over on the street, far away? And to hear a sound like a motorcycle engine kind of just out of your ear range it really kind of startled me for a second.
George Drake Jr. Craig, this thing sounds pretty cool. Walking through a parking lot with a symphony of different sounds as your soundtrack. That’s pretty cool.
Craig Shank It is cool, but it does have some issues.
George Drake Jr. What kind of issues?
Craig Shank Well a few times as I was walking down the path things like this happened:
George Drake Jr. Oh, it just cut off.
Craig Shank Just wait…
George Drake Jr. There it goes again. Is that motorcycle real or fake?
Craig Shank That was part of the path.
George Drake Jr. Oh, and there goes that too.
Craig Shank Right, see it has some issues, but nothing severe and I was walking more slowly than some people normally would through the path, but Pat and Ben know about the glitches as well.
Patrick Flaherty As far as upkeep, It has been a challenge, and I would just say that anyone wanting to work with not just a motion driven piece, but also putting it outdoors, right now I can assure you there’s probably a speaker out that we need to get to every so often. The sensor might get damaged or just stop working and so it does, from our standpoint, it becomes something we have to literally take of and nature it.
Craig Shank There are some sounds that are a little bit unsettling.
George Drake Jr. Oh. Do I even want to know?
Craig Shank No, it’s not like that. Like Ben said…
Ben Shine I’m still regularly surprised when the crowd laughter starts as I walk by because it makes me feel insecure for a minute or two.
George Drake Jr. Ugh. It feels like they’re laughing at me!
Craig Shank I know. it’s awful. The sensory path isn’t the only thing the Indianapolis Arts Center has. It also has a sculpture walk.
George Drake Jr. Which I’m assuming, in this instance, is actually what it sounds like.
Craig Shank Yeah. It’s actually a walk through what they call the ‘arts park.’
George Drake Jr. Now, do the sculptures make noises at you as you go by here too?
Craig Shank No, but there is one piece that makes some noise.
Patrick Flaherty We have an interactive piece that you move this bar and it’s in the sand, like a granite donut with sand in it, and when you move this bar it triggers a choice singing.
George Drake Jr. That sounds like something you’d see in that old computer game, Myst. Remember that?
Craig Shank Yeah. It kind of was.
Sadashi Inuzuka’s “Circle” The choir will open their portion of our program this evening with a gospel-style piece about, what else, the joy of singing. It is entitled, “I’m gonna lift my voice and sing.” *music*
George Drake Jr. Oh, that’s not what I was expecting it to sound like.
Craig Shank That’s what I said!
Craig Shank Not exactly the thing I was expecting to come out of this piece.
Ben Shine Maybe it’s your new theme song!
Craig Shank This is cool…
Craig Shank You can see pictures and find out more about the Indianapolis Arts Center, the Sensory Walk, and the Arts Park at our website at everything sounds dot org.
George Drake Jr. And if you want to take a stroll through the sensory walk yourself, you can visit them on 67th street on the north side of indianapolis.
Craig Shank And if you have a minute, consider rating or writing a review of the podcast on iTunes. Ratings help boost our rankings and give us additional exposure.
George Drake Jr. And thanks in advance for that.
Craig Shank Right, thank you.
George Drake Jr.The music on this weeks show was provided by Eric Radoux, find out more about the music you hear on the show and how to submit your own music at our website: everything sounds dot org.
Craig Shank Until next time, I’m Craig Shank
George Drake Jr. And I’m George Drake Jr.
Craig Shank …and this is Everything Sounds.