Project Description

One Square Mile: 10,000 Voices is an interactive documentary experience that layers voices from Manzanar's past and present over the physical landscape. It consists of audio augmented reality installations at Manzanar National Historic Site and Little Tokyo Historic, as well as this website.

Audio recordings are geolocated across Manzanar and Little Tokyo; using a mobile device and headphones, participants are immersed in a soundscape that responds dynamically to their location. Each person's experience will be entirely unique depending on when they go, where they go, and how they choose to explore.

As people wander, they can also record their own reflections to add to the project, creating an evolving tapestry of collective storytelling. By empowering people to share their own experiences, we invite them to consider historical materials not as fixed didactic texts, but rather as starting points for discussion, reflection, and further investigation.

Furthermore, by combining participants' voices with a wide variety of historical and contemporary audio—from interviews with Paiute-Shoshone elders to WWII news recordings to Manzanar Pilgrimage musical performances—we also hope to illuminate physical spaces as dynamic, democratic, and richly layered archives in their own right.

This project would not be possible without the Japanese American community's decades of organizing to recognize and document the experiences of detainees, or the crucial oral history work of Densho and the National Park Service. We hope it will contribute to the ongoing work of educating the public about this legacy and its relevance to present-day injustices, including those related to racial discrimination, incarceration, and immigration.

This project is built on Roundware, an open-source software platform for interactive audio. For more information, click here.

Directors

Sue Ding (sue-ding.com) is a documentary filmmaker and immersive media creator based in Los Angeles. She directs and produces nonfiction media—from feature documentaries to virtual reality—exploring the intersection of identity, storytelling, and social justice. Her most recent film, The Claudia Kishi Club, premiered at South by Southwest this year. Her previous work has been featured on PBS and The New York Times.

Sue also consults on interactive and multiplatform projects, writes about documentary storytelling, and serves as Senior Programmer for Emerging Media at the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival. She is an alum of MIT’s Open Documentary Lab and Comparative Media Studies graduate program, and a Senior Civic Media Fellow at USC’s Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

Halsey Burgund (halseyburgund.com) is a musician and sound artist based outside Boston. Halsey's work combines socio-anthropological research, documentary sound, and collective storytelling; his installations make extensive use of spoken human voice recordings. Halsey has exhibited in museums and galleries internationally, and created installations for the Smithsonian, UNESCO, and the California Academy of Sciences. He was awarded a Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship to explore their audio archives for future work, and is currently a fellow in MIT's Open Documentary Lab and a Research Affiliate at the MIT Media Lab.

Halsey is the creator of Roundware, an open-source contributory audio augmented reality platform that allows users to augment the physical landscape with location-aware layers of sound. He has used Roundware to create installations across the globe, including historical investigations and projects focused on expanding accessibility for visually impaired people. His Roundware projects have been covered in the New York Times, Wired, and NPR.

Project Advisors

The Manzanar Committee is a volunteer organization dedicated to preserving Manzanar’s history and educating the public about the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II. The committee has organized the annual Manzanar Pilgrimage since 1969, and the accompanying Manzanar at Dusk program since 1997. They led the decades-long effort to establish Manzanar as a National Historic Site, and played a key role in creating its interpretive center. As part of their educational mission, they have also published books and curricula, and collaborated closely with a number of oral history archives.

Alisa Lynch has been Chief of Interpretation at Manzanar National Historic Site since 2001. She has worked for the National Park Service for 28 years, including park ranger assignments at Yosemite, Big Bend, and Mount Rainier National Parks. She oversees Manzanar’s efforts in visitor services, education, publications, exhibit design, social media, and oral history. As a leader in NPS interpretation of Japanese American history, she has lent her expertise to projects at Pearl Harbor, Tule Lake, and Alcatraz Island.

Partner Organizations

Visual Communications is a non-profit dedicated to supporting the voices of Asian American and Pacific Islander filmmakers and media artists. Founded in 1970, VC has been a pioneer in the development of Asian Pacific American film, video, and media. Today, VC’s programming includes the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival; the Armed With a Camera Fellowship; C3: The Conference for Creative Content; and more. The organization also houses one of the largest photographic and moving image archives on the Asian Pacific experience in America.

National Park Service: As steward of Manzanar National Historic Site, the National Park Service conducts historical preservation and oversees a wide array of public programming and educational resources. Manzanar interpretive programs have received honors from The Organization of American Historians, the National Association for Interpretation, and the Public Lands Alliance. As the first National Historic Site of its kind, Manzanar provides leadership for the preservation of other Japanese internment sites, and strives to foster greater discussion and understanding of civil rights and democracy.