“Bethesda Loops”: An Interactive Sound Walk by Kamala Sankaram

“Bethesda Loops” is a new, original work by New York-based composer/performer Kamala Sankaram, and functions as an interactive sound walk within the Bethesda Fountain and Terrace section of New York City’s Central Park. The piece, initially released in conjunction with New York Creative Tech Week in May, 2018, officially premiered on 16 June, 2018.

Try the Live Preview

Viewing Tips

  • To run the Preview, you MUST use Safari on a Mac — at least for now. If you do not have the Unity Plugin installed already, you will be prompted to do so. You must also be in Safari when you do this as well.
  • The MixMap displays the zones where audio can be played. It is oriented so that Top is North
  • The little, vibrating, blue “blob” represents your position on the map, similar to the blue dot that you’d find on your phone’s map application
  • Use either your arrow keys or the W, A, S, D keys on your keyboard to walk Forward, Left, Right, and Left, respectively
  • Audio clips can be triggered at any time by navigating into any of the colored zones. Clips are turned off by exiting a zone.
  • Make sure your volume is turned up!
From the composer, Kamala Sankaram:

When I first moved to New York, one of the most magical experiences I had was discovering Bethesda Fountain in Central Park. As someone who grew up in a very dry, desert-like environment, the beautiful angel statue, the rushing waters of the fountain and the setting in front of the lake were unlike anything I’d ever experienced. So, in choosing a site for my collaboration with U-GRUVE AR, I decided to make a piece that would capture that magical feeling.
The music is aleatoric in structure and inspired by the history of the fountain. Created in commemoration of the Croton water system, the angel statue is officially called the Angel of the Waters, a reference to the Gospel of John in the Bible: “an angel came forth and troubled the waters.”
I decided to set this text as several plainchant melodies that interact with each other as the listener moves around the fountain. When you enter the ring nearest to the fountain, a chorus of voices joins in, the harmonies changing as you move around the ring.

As you can see in the MixMap, the piece covers the full Bethesda Fountain and Terrace area, including the underpass to the Mall. When you start up the app, you will see a blue (or sometimes white!) dot in the center of the screen, which indicates your position. Simply keep the dot within any of the colored shapes and you’ve got it. You can start anywhere, take as much time as you want, and move in any direction at any time.

And while you’ll be able to see the MixMap on your screen as you’re walking around, we’ve found that it is sometimes helpful to have the map printed out. Here’s a PDF version that you can download and print for your visit.

What do I need to do to hear it?

The music is experienced through the U-GRUVE AR app, which you can download now on the iTunes App Store or on the Google Play Store.

appStoreButtonGet it on Google Play

Ok, I downloaded the app. . . how do I use it?

Once you’ve downloaded and installed the U-GRUVE AR app, you must be physically on-site to successfully use it. Be sure to check out this “Getting Started” page for essential tips.