TrailOff is a transmedial walking performance created by Swim Pony in collaboration with the Pennsylvania Environmental Council (PEC) that premiered September 2020 as a free-to-download mobile app. Central to the project are 10 original audio stories, inspired by paths within the region’s expansive Circuit Trail network. Each trail features an original drama that unfolds over a roughly 2 mile route, written by a local author who demonstrates both rigorous artistic practice and connections to communities traditionally underserved by environmental programming.
Audiences experience these intimate journeys through the app, which uses GPS triggering to link audio to physical attributes along the mapped route. Each author has created a unique audio story written specifically to be heard on their trail. Narration of the author’s text underscored with music and atmospheric sound design syncs to the user as they travel. Stories highlight features of the landscape, encouraging listeners to imagine the world around them from the writer’s unique perspective. Using additional sensor data (weather, date, time of day, walking pace) the narratives also contain subtle variations heightening the app’s “awareness” of what the listener does, giving them a magical experience of real-time response. After each walk, users can access informational behind-the-scenes insights into environmental and historic points of interest on the trail or check out podcast-style interviews with the writers.