Walk around town with this GPS-enabled "aura'" backpack and headphones to experience a unique sound world - but be aware that you destroy the world as you listen to it, in fact you hear the degraded landscape created by other users' walks.

Aura is a located sound project that explores notions of consumption and ownership by allowing users to effect an audio landscape as they move within the Real World. Your movements are tracked by GPS as you explore the outdoor area near the museum which is then layered onto a record of all the previous users’, this map is used to generate surround sound. You can hear the resulting eroded landscape, left to right and front to back.

Imagine a playing field after a fresh falling of snow. The snow lies evenly and untrodden. This represents an empty aura sound world and, if you wore an aura backpack, would sound like soft pink noise balanced with a gently undulating hum. Someone walks across the field leaving footprints, the snow is sullied, eroded, the walker has left a patina in the world. In the aura world this patina is first represented by shifts in the intensity and changes in filtering; the audio moving as you cross the footprints. As more people walk in the world the sound becomes more and more fragmented and distorted, leaving smaller and smaller pockets of unconsumed beauty. This artwork is positioned in the field of the emerging history of mobile audio projects and locative art forms; the work is also considered as systemic art practice.

“Aura - The stuff that forms around you” was premiered at the Enter Festival, Cambridge, UK in April 2007, and described in Creative Review as the best and most subtle work shown. Since then it has been exhibited at Ding Dong, FACT, Liverpool and ISEA09, Belfast.


Steve Symons is a sound artist known for an innovative series of sonic augmented reality projects titled 'aura' and as a member of the award winning Owl Project.

He creates digital systems for his own use, which are often released for artists and musicians as free and open-source tools, and is currently extending this process to include commissioning artists to make new content for the systems he has created, thus challenging traditional notions of artist, maker and producer.  These activities operate under the guise of muio.org; an art and technology interface consultancy he set up to facilitate his artistic practice and exploit the technology created in its realisation.
Owl Project is a three person collaboration (Steve Symons, Simon Blackmore and Anthony Hall) who make and perform with sculptural sonic interfaces that critique human desire for technology. Nominated for the Northern Art Prize and awarded the Best of Manchester 2009, Owl Project (along with production manager Ed Carter) hold one of the Artists Taking the Lead commissions as part of the Cultural Olympiad.


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