Challenge: Explore new formats for non-fiction storytelling.
Project Summary: Throughout the cycle of a single looping day, “Bodega” transports visitors to bodegas in different boroughs, painting a dynamic picture of one of NYC’s famous archetypal spaces. While we hear the languages, characters, and radio stations change within these different settings, we are invited to inspect the common foods and products that enable the crossing of paths between longtime locals, new residents, and out-of-towners in these classic NYC hubs. 3D scanned items of each overheard purchase – from deli sandwiches to six packs – rotate on screen, and the immersive soundscape invites us to join the theatrical scenes and conversations that play out during the transactions between proprietor and customer. Bodega is a meditation on commerce, labor, and the interpersonal relationships of changing neighborhoods. The durational piece embraces an ambient model of interactive media: what the audience hears depends on what time of day they visit the website.
Further description: "Bodega" is a long form documentary that speaks through theatrically mixed, naturalistic audio recordings. 5-6 microphones are set up throughout the interior and exterior of the shop to capture the conversations between the proprietors and their customers. Our aural spatial coverage of the shop’s soundscape enables us to "follow the action" as it moves throughout the space by bringing up and down the levels of our different microphones. These vignetted moments take on a vivid and dynamic quality, and those who have experienced the work in it’s current state often remark how delightful it is to imagine what these people may look like. This is a subtle yet fundamental prompt that Bodega offers it’s listeners.
Bodega is visually reserved, displaying only the time of day, the subtitles of the audible conversations, and the items purchased from the shops that float in 3D onscreen during each transaction. Versions of these items are then afterwards purchased by our team so that we can capture volumetric structure scans which we’ll then implement into our site using Three.js.
Bodega’s final form will still be a website built around the experience of an immersive audio documentary, but the visual character will evolve. Currently the stores’ purchased items rotate in 3D on screen in front of a spare black background, perhaps exaggerating a focus on the objectification in ways that distract from the interpersonal themes within these scenes. We would like to develop Bodega's visual presentation to include more of a sense of physical space and character.
Below is a timelapse documentation of our presentation of the project at the 2017 ITP Winter Show.