Roundware is a contributory audio platform that allows creators to augment the physical landscape with location-aware layers of music and recorded voices. Using a mobile app and headphones, participants are immersed in a soundscape that responds dynamically to their location and movement. They can listen and wander, filter their audio stream in a number of ways, or record their own commentary to add to the project. Contributions are tagged with location information as well as project-specific metadata. Gradually, user contributions build up across the landscape, documenting a multiplicity of voices and subjective experiences over time.
The platform lends itself to a host of different applications, and is open-source, originally developed by sound artist Halsey Burgund. As a sound artist, Burgund has long been drawn to the human voice—its musical qualities, shades of emotion, and intimate reflection of the diversity of human experience. With an emphasis on openness and plurality is embedded deeply in the platform itself.
Roundware emphatically states, “Roundware is not audio tour software! In some ways, Roundware is the anti-audio tour platform.” It further explains the distinction: Audio tours are traditionally about a single authoritative voice whereas Roundware is about a multitude of voices, opinions and ideas mixed together.
Audio tours tend to be linear experiences; Roundware is based on a non-linear, flexible, participant-driven, immersive experience.
Roundware is designed for sculpting an aesthetic experience, not for explicitly delivering educational or interpretive information. Roundware’s dynamic soundscapes augment the physical landscape with a new layer of collaborative creativity and social interaction.
Roundware was conceived from the very beginning as a contributory platform—the capacity for users to add their own content was central to its functionality and ethos from the start. In a contributory project, “You’re contributing to a larger whole, leaving something of yourself for others, co-creating something such that future participants are affected by past contributions.
This openness and immediacy produces an environment that encourages participants to playfully experiment with creative modes of collective storytelling.
Locative Media Supercluster partners with Halsey Burgund since this year applying Roundware as a tool in their projects, starting with No One Forgotten, an European funded project about connection, between artists with and without disabilities all over Europe, in a discourse of equality and thinking beyond limitations.