Audio Effects And Presets
For these sound pieces I attempted to utilise the audio effect presets within Adobe Premiere Pro, the programme I was using to edit the sound clips, to try and communicate my grandfather’s Alzheimer’s Disease. I wanted to see if there was a way for me to simulate the condition in some way without trivialising it, or feeling I was being in some way disrespectful to my granddad.
These two pieces use the multitap delay effect, in which multiple delays within the clip play simultaneously. The intention was to create a disorientating, uneasy effect, to try and represent the confusion and difficulties of Alzheimer’s disease. Whilst in some ways the almost choral like effect the preset created was very interesting, I did not feel this best communicated my grandfather’s condition. It also made the source tale hard to understand, which is an important factor to me in regards to the final piece. As such I decided to continue experimenting with different audio effects.
This piece used the Chorus effect on Premiere, specifically the circular chorus preset. It intermittently shifts the balance of the sound from one speaker to another, which succeeds in creating a confusing, unpleasant sensation. However, I felt that subjecting audiences to this for the duration of the story would be problematic. It is very hard to a story in this way, particularly if the listener is wearing headphones, which I intend to do. So whilst the effect is interesting, I decided I would need to try other options.
For these pieces I played around with layering the audio files in different ways. The audio effects seemed to be a superficial way of suggesting my granddad’s condition, and not wholly effective in doing so. As such I attempted to overlay the interviews using various techniques to see whether that would yield better results.
This clip was created by reversing the sound of the interview and overlaying the original over the top. The thinking was it may give audiences an insight into the shift in perception of time sufferers experience, where short term memory is fuzzy to non existent, but events decades past can be recalled relatively easily, as well as suggest the disorientating nature of the condition. I didn’t feel the piece spoke about Alzheimer’s in a clear enough fashion; it was evident the piece was suggesting some kind of neurological disorder or mental health condition, but to me it didn’t seem accurate or representative enough of the specific disease to be effective. It also seemed like an easy option, so I wanted to try and challenge myself a bit more.
These clips were influenced by my research into the artist and filmmaker Beatrice Gibson’s piece The Future’s Getting Old Like The Rest Of Us. In it, she overlays interviews with up to eight participants from subjects living in care homes. Her work is inspired by film scores, and the idea of using speech like music interested me greatly. First, I experimented with layering several different stories from my grandfather to create a cacophony of noise, presenting the jumble of memories that Alzheimer’s creates. By simultaneously playing these tales, the audience finds it hard to focus and understand. Whilst I was satisfied this communicated the condition in one sense, the lack of any clarity in using different stories obscured the other part of the project; the sharing of these tales with audiences.
As such, my next attempt utilised only the one tale, which restarts and plays through several times, building layers to create a single story blur. I was much more satisfied with the second version, as it gave a greater impression of the original narrative, whilst also suggesting all is not well. Yet I still felt that it lacked the sense of emotion I was looking for; all of these responses felt very technical (effects, editing techniques etc) but did not have any great purpose or feeling behind them. They felt like intellectual exercises rather than personal expressions, and for this project to work the emotional side of the piece, and what my grandfather means to me, needed to be reflected more than it was currently.