The spatiality of sound in immersive media environments

workshop series / seminar / overview
Working in the field of sound and space for 15 years, specializing in film sound & sound scenography, and in sonic arts & composition respectively, we share the interest in the delineation of sonic space as a concept and a phenomenon in media environments that increasingly impact our our everyday lives. By bringing together our different perspectives from professional work, as well as from artistic and academic research, we emphasize the necessity of an aesthetical approach to the development of contemporary spatial media environments and its auditory components.

In our work as researchers, artists, and designers we identified multiple difficulties challenging the advancement of spatial media. These difficulties are particularly related to the creation and the design of media contents, but also to the development of tools, technologies, techniques, and methods that are being used. For example, companies, scientific institutions, and users in the spatial sound arts are holding a great interest in the technicality of hard- and software for decades, but we are still lacking adequate knowledge about the phenomena that can or could be experienced. In addition, we often face difficulties to link scientific formulations, or the descriptions of technical equipment and setups, to the phenomena we experience in situ. We also found that professionals and academics alike are challenged with discussing their actual experience of spatial phenomena in sound, including its complementary modes of perception such as seeing, smelling, touching, etc. Last but not least, many people have a limited understanding about certain spatial qualities of sound and its consequences for aesthetic experience and communication processes.

As it seems to us, the problems described are caused by at least two shortcomings. First, the limited ability to consciously experience and then analyze certain spatial qualities in sonic media. Second, the limited ability to communicate and discuss the experienced phenomena in a meaningful way not only with people from the same, but also from different fields or academic disciplines. With this workshop we want to address these shortcomings by
  • conducting perception and awareness exercises
  • exploring methods of verbalizing our experiences, enabling the participants to share their experiences through meaningful communication about individual perceptions and the multitude of interpretations
  • introducing the key points of spatial theories and how they interact with or exclude each other in different practical applications
  • conducting practical design exercises to learn how thinking and creating spatial qualities in sound depend on each other

This workshop shall enable participants from all disciplines to understand how experience, verbalization, and theory can help us reflect on our creative processes in a constant iterative and comparative loop, and to think of spatial aesthetics as a daily practice of world making inherent to every compositional act, with sound in general, and with loudspeaker environments in particular.

The workshop series is composed of five parts:
    1. EXPERIENCING — spatial aesthetics in sound
    2. VERBALIZING — words, strategies, and approaches to describe and discuss our experience
    3. THINKING — key points in theory about the spatiality of sound
    4. PRODUCING — how our thinking shapes our creative practice
    5. REFLECTING — how experience, verbalization, and theory can help us to reflect on our creative processes in a constant comparative and iterative loop

Each part of the workshop will be held online via Zoom (live, not recorded). A shared virtual 3D audio listening and production environment will be provided based on free software components. The participants are required to bring their own binaural microphone, headphones, and computer. The workshop is divided into five slots of 3,5 hours each. Each slot is scheduled for another day, which means the total length of the workshop is 5 days. The workshop will be held during a 5-week period with one day of workshop each week (e.g., Saturdays). Between the Zoom sessions, the participants are expected to commit for approximately 1-2 days of additional time for individual theoretical and practical work, and for preparing group presentations.

The participants of this workshop will gain:
  • An increased sensitivity in their experience
  • An increased ability to discuss the spatial qualities of sound
  • A larger horizon to talk and write about spatial aesthetics in sound
  • Methods to analyze the spatiality of sound
  • A solid theoretical foundation to guide their work, including conception
  • A deeper understanding of the relationships between sound and space of highly practical relevance
  • Practical experience in designing the spatiality of sound
  • A fully equipped virtual 3D audio studio that the participants can use for their future work
  • Knowledge about how to connect your virtual 3D audio studio to physical loudspeaker setups
  • Knowledge on how to set up a proper 3D-loudspeaker setup
  • An increased ability to work with any spatial audio technology, because the participants will have learned the universal conceptual ideas and theories underlying any particular audio technology

This workshop is part of the educational program of the spæs lab, and developed by sound scenographer Johannes Scherzer and sound artist and composer Gerriet K. Sharma.

© All rights reserved, and intellectual property owned by the authors.
July, 2020