Calling Thunder

Can we immerse people in Manhattan's history to address its future?


Calling Thunder tells the unsung history of New York through spatial audio and mobile VR. Users are transported through a series of interactive soundscapes that compare today’s urban cacophony to the vibrant ecosystems Henry Hudson would have encountered in 1609.

The narrative explores Manhattan’s past to address its future: unearthing wonder in the green pockets of our city.


January 2017 - present

Role: Creator, designer, 360 videographer, developer

Collaborators: Bill McQuay and the Cornell Lab of Ornithology; Eric Sanderson with the Wildlife Conservations Society, and Emily Kron

360 Preview: The High Line


Dr. Eric Sanderson and the Wildlife Conservation Society have led efforts to map New York's ecological past. The Welikia Project has been an inspiration and invaluable resource in developing this story. The interactive map allows users to examine the likely flora, fauna, and human inhabitants of a given NYC block in 1609, comparing that environment to its current state.

Process / Details

We are using 3D and directional-audio technology to create an immersive and memorable learning experience. Unlike traditional approaches to natural history storytelling, which rely on passive methods of inspiring awe and communicating information, this story will provoke deeper listening and active engagement. 

Users will journey through four key locations in New York City: Collect Pond Park, the High Line, The Museum of Natural History, and Inwood Hill Park. Content will respond to users’ locations and movements, directing their attention west to the Hudson River or north to the calls of migrating birds. Leveraging mobile VR technology, we can encourage focused listening and offer a captivating educational experience.

Exploring narrative approaches to UI in VR 

Exploring narrative approaches to UI in VR 

As a Storytelling Fellow with A+E Networks, I am currently developing a platform for the story, assembling research for the next phase of script writing, and prototyping interactions for an audio-driven mobile VR. I am also collaborating with the Cornell Lab of Ornithology to re-create the ambisonic environments.

Building ambisonic soundscapes for Collect Pond in 1609 with Bill McQuay

Building ambisonic soundscapes for Collect Pond in 1609 with Bill McQuay