Audio Only

Papa Sangre interface

A couple years ago, when judging an interactive competition, there was an entry that started with a dark screen and, in the distance, a flickering candle. Using only sound, you moved through a landscape to get to the candle. If my memory is correct you weren’t rewarded with much more than a scare and then a fairly traditional website. But it was a nice example of something I’d urged my Art Center students to explore years earlier — create an interactive project with no visuals, just sound. They just stared at me, but I still think it was good advice.

It’s interesting to see two recent iPhone apps whose interfaces are almost entirely based on sound… The The Lake and Papa Sangre.

The Lake is the more minimally interactive of the two. With it, you flip a card to advance through an audio-based environment. The interactivity is pretty simple, but the sound is beautifully done. From what I can gather, your journey is similar each time you advance, but differences reveal new details each time.

Papa Sangre is a bit more complex. In it, without any visual cues, you must navigate through different chambers, avoiding obstacles and collecting sound-tokens to advance. The challenges start simple and get more complex. They’re a little scary, but have some cute playful elements in them as well. My only complaint is that the audio mixing, which lets you know which direction your facing, is a little coarse and distracting.

They’re both definitely worth trying. And I’m definitely planning to spend more time with each of them.