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Ipod Culture - Perception of Urban Space Now with YouTube Movies

Our perception of urban space is based on sight, smell, sound and to some extent touch. Portable music became main stream in 1979 with the introduction of the Sony Walkman and with it came a change to the way we perceive the space around us. By filtering out the natural and man made sounds of the city we are able to immerses ourselves in a alternative reality of our choosing.

The rise of the Ipod has placed this change of perception at our fingertips - to illustrate this we placed a webcam in our button hole, linked it to a laptop in our bag and record the sound from the ipod playing on our way to work.

The resulting movie is an insight into how the choice of music changes our view of the urban environment. In our case it is almost immersing yourself in a real-time MTV world as we consume the urban environment accompanied by the beats of a dance track. Our walking pace moves in time with the music and the environment becomes a backdrop to the video of space.

Perception changes according to the music chosen... take a look at the video and let us know any thoughts. Note the quality is mixed due to the mounting of a webcam in a jacket button hole but as a first test it gets the point across...


Continuing the series we have a new movie exploring the perception of urban space and audio - this time from a train approaching the city. The music on shuffle mode is in stark contrast to the previous movie and thus creates a different perceptual view of the city.

We are still not sure where we are going with these but any thoughts are welcome...


  1. I am a graduate student in London studying the brain and its perception of space as part of my thesis on microhotels. I found this quite fun to watch!

  2. Very good choice of music to speed and visual tracking of video.

    Reminded me a bit of a train journey I made in East Berlin quite a few years ago, only your video has more trees in it!

  3. Very interesting. I think most of us will know this experience when the surrounding and music melt into a kind of a 3D-music video. Anyway, it is not that clear to me if the iPod introduces new effects in this respect (compared to the former walkman experience). Apart from this, great idea. However, I personally would be rather interested in how persons are moving through the urban space depending on the music they hear (that would mean to record the music while at the same time filming the person). One would find styles of movements (I suppose) like surfing vs. strolling vs. struggling through the city space.

    I think I got the button hole-idea, but you won't be able to record personal experience anyway.