This project starts from a small memory when i was 4, the first time i heard a siren. it was a big sound, the kind of sound that wraps around your body, crawl inside and linger there for a long time. sometimes it can stay with you for hours.
i hated this sound for years, even when hearing an ambulance or a low noise that have the potential to become a siren - i freeze.
7 years old, Shelter birthday party, 1995
it is interesting how a sound can shape a Behavior, how a sound can make your body num, how a sound can make you feel sad or scared. i never confronted my fears.
in a way, being in New York, far away from home gave me the distance i needed to reflect on this memory. its a personal one, it's not about everybody else. its about the way i feel about this sound.
The gulf war, 1991.
1 / Collecting the data
I wrote to the "home front command" department and tries to get access to all the information they had over sirens. i found in the hard way that they are not going to give me access to this delicate information regarding the security of israel. i even spoke with my city municipality and tries to find out if they have any record.
after a lot of phone calls, i decided that i am going to collect all the information by myself, its only 30 years of siren, what can be possibly so hard? WRONG!
everything was hard, i had searched for information from old newspapers from 1988 (the year i was born) and continue to read in blogs and people's memoirs about the war to seek better understand how many siren went on.
the first few years 1988-1996 were the hardest, no digital trails, everything manual or hand written, some books covered the technical aspects of these years.
i had to relay on my parents and my family memory.
In the end my CSV file looked like this, 673 lines of information collected slowly.
2 / Finding surveillance camera in israel
A siren is like a surveillance camera, it's all about the waiting. you wait for something to happen.
i never saw the "outside" when a siren went on, i had to be inside a room, with 4 walls from concrete and couldn't leave until cleared. attaching my memories and the information that i collected the footage of real-time israel seemed to be the correct closure for these kind of project. i am waiting for the time that there will be a siren in israel and i might be able to see it from this website.
this is the site that i am using more of the live footage:
I found out that there are thousand of camera in one specific website, from garages to stairs of building, parking lots, stores around the country. i was surprised that people are that "easy" going with there personal data. the hardest part was to write the code to get the feel of a real time footage.
With the help of some good friends from ITP: Jiwon and Sam, we found a way to refresh the website every few milliseconds and get the feeling of a surveillance camera.
3 / Creating the sound file
My sound file is 10 hours and 53 minutes longs. I edited all these sirens into one long musical piece, Some of the sirens presented in my project are part of the israeli culture to commemorate and some are provided as an emergency warning of a danger like in war times. because i wanted it to be a long loop, i edited it first using garage band and then mapped it together with the CSV file so that every siren will match with the information corresponded.
4/ Design the interaction with the timeline
I didn't want the interaction to be more then dragging a timeline, the timeline is something that already happened, i want people to go around this timeline as a musical piece with some footage and memories. i collected 20 memories from the past 30 years that were tight to a specific siren and wrote them down. i want people to sit and listen, from time to time move the mouse and see more, but it is more about the sitting, the watching, the waiting for something to happen.
i started with some inspiration from the poles of the sirens:
i liked that clear grid, very minimalist approach and a siren is very clean as well.
And then came the design. some things has changes but most of it is working and looking the same witch was a great achievement for me. being on the other side of the work. usually i am doing all the design and for the first time i found how useful can a good css style sheet can be.
here is the final documentation of the website.
5/ the book
i felt like there should be another things with the website, something more physical. something about a specific siren, and its length, the way it feels. so i used p5 sound and the amplitude function to see my siren amplitude for 60 seconds, i recorded it and while doing it, it felt like it is my heart beat, it was moving in a way that you can feel that something is happening. i printed out 376 pages of this amplitude with a list of all the siren presented in a different way: how many of these sirens i was exposed to in each event: war-time, memorial day, drill alarm, false alarm and so on. for me it was closure for the project, its like a chapter in my life that i printed, it is going to stay there forever, to be my heart beat for 1988-2018.