Testing possible presentations for the echolocation

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on April 19, 2010

What I think I want to do is use the echo location recordings and exploit them as a possible way to suggest a certain presence in a space. I was thinking of combining the abstract sounds with more recognizable sounds such as doors, squeaking wood, etc. Since I was going to suggest a presence and I had been thinking about Kosuth’s chairs I thought why not…so I took a chair, recorded some sounds while giving it slight, gentle and a few harder pushes. I attached two very little cheap speakers(therefore also quiet poor sound but it was just a test so at this point I don’t care …) to the bottom of the seat and sent the recorded chair sounds through them.

speakers attached to bottom of a chair seat

speakers attached to bottom of a chair seat

Small, rather low sounds of the chair wobbling a bit, still worked o.k. At some point while watching it and listening to the sounds I sometimes even started to really doubt whether the chair really wobbled or not. The bigger sounds like the legs scratching the floor, didn’t work so well. Probably because the sounds sounded comming from the seat instead of the legs, which would be more logical. However getting tired of this disappointing result, I sat down on the chair with the sounds still going. Suddenly it all worked better. Why? Well because the sounds sounded like they came from under the chair, which made sense from my new perspective. Second thing was that the vibrations of the speakers started to feel similar to vibrations I would feel when wobbling a bit or when slightly moving the chair in a certain direction.So as I realised the gap between the data from one sense and the data from another sense (in this case, hearing and touch) was smaller then the gap between the info comming through ears and eyes.

So feeling more lucky, I decided to switch to my echo location sounds which actually represent my movement through a few rooms/spaces. I will have to continue tomorrow, but it felt quiet O.k. for now. It kind of felt like there was something beneath my chair, sometimes hitting the seat from beneath in a quiet hard way, at other times it seemed/felt, more distant. I am quiet certain that if I would expand my setup with speakers in the room and use them to give direction to the ‘creature’/’object’ suggested by the sound, it would work quiet well.

To be continued …

Mirror Sound/Sound Mirroring 4

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on January 3, 2010

Finished a first attempt to make a sound mirror in Pure Data. This little and simple patch records and reverses sounds almost immediately.

Will still have to work on it to filter out some disturbing noises. Also would like to see if I can reduce the current delay, but wouldn’t hope on that too much as a part of the sound needs to be recorded into a buffer before it can be played back in reverse Hope to upload a video here very soon of how it sounds.

Pure Data patch record and play reverse

Mirror Sound/Sound Mirroring 3

Posted in Sound Art, Theory, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 26, 2009

‘Transparent Sound’

As I said before it still seems that ‘transparent sound’ would be ‘silence’. The volume in dB would then be the indicator for the degree of ‘transparency’. Nevertheless this seems a bit too simple?

If we see noise(containing all frequencies) as the most physical sound, containing the most matter, the most filtered noise would be ‘transparent sound’. If compared to a ‘normal physical transparent object’, we say that there is matter present but in a way/material that allows us to see thru it. If a material is completely transparent, like lets say a normal clean glass window without any scratches, there is matter, we know there is glass but we could as well ignore it as we can look thru as if it were not there. Glass, in itself, can be so transparent that we don’t see it anymore (if for example the borders are hidden in a way that they don’t disrupt/interrupt the illusion). Taking this into account and talking about what could be ‘transparent sound’, we would have to say that there should be a source of sound waves but that the sound waves should be (almost) imperceptible. this leads us then to the ultrasonic and infrasound sounds. Transparent sounds would therefore be sounds/frequencies above 20 000 Hz(as we get older this barrier might drop to 15 000 Hz and 10 000 Hz) and below 20 Hz.

Note: Dogs and bats can hear well over 20000 Hz. This range is referred to as ultrasonic. In contrast to this is the infrasound range, which is lower than the bottom of the audible threshold – i.e., between 0 and 20 Hz. This range is perceived by us as rhythm. The infrasound therefore could be more interesting as there is still something perceived even though we don’t define it as sound but rhythm. An interesting thing to think a bit more about.

‘Mirror Sound’

When thinking about ‘mirror sound’, two aspects should be taken into consideration.

1) A reverb could be seen as reflected sound. When talking into a microphone and getting this sound back through monitors (maybe with an almost imperceptible delay) could feel like a ‘mirror’. Working with the panning of the sound this could add to the effect.

2) Simply mirroring a sound sample, inverting it/playing a sound back in reverse, could also be a ‘mirror sound’.

Because if we analyse what happens when looking into a mirror, we see a reflection of our image but this image is also ‘mirrored’/reversed. Therefore the combination of reflecting sound and reversing it at the same time would be ‘mirror sound’.

When taking this further one could add a few parameters such as distance and the shape of the ‘mirror’. For example hollow mirrors enlarge the image you see while rounded mirrors make the reflected image smaller and enlarge the visual range (show more of the environment). Again adding some variety in volume, band width, using low-cut filters, etc. could make this experiment/thinking more interesting.

Hopefully I can do some experiments soon to try out both ways of looking at it, first separately and then try to combine them and afterwards start experimenting with some additional parameters, filters, etc.

Mirror sound/Sound mirror – 2

Posted in quotes and advices, Sound Art, Theory, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 26, 2009

Reflecting a bit more on this topic and while doing some tutorials learning about music/sound and Pure Data, I had an interesting thought about ‘noise'(well for me it was interesting because thinking about sound is quiet new for me…maybe for the more specialized people when it comes to music this is a quiet dull post…).

Apparently Claude Debussy composed as follows: ‘I take all the chords and leave out those I don’t like…’ You could say that he thus, when we make a parallel with digital sound, he would have taken ‘noise’ and filtered out all the frequencies he didn’t like. This was exactly the way I was thinking about starting to work with sound for 2 reasons.

1) If you take a look at my video of my first experiment with light and sound and the see-thru-mirror foil, it has a sort of filtering aspect.

2) My interest for mapping and cartography take  into account, filtering is something I constantely have to do (even as a ‘regular’ graphic designer). Especially doing mapping and creating any kind of map (even a personal/subjective map) is actually try to filter out all the information/data one doesn’t need in relation to the theme of the map or the needs of the creator (if one is creating his/her own map).

For these two reasons starting from ‘noise’ and try to filter out certain frequencies would make working with sound more intuitive, natural, … especially since I am making a certain shift now coming from a more visually oriented background.

Then again this doesn’t solve my question yet when thinking about the auditive equivalent of mirroring and transparency. If we start again from ‘noise’ we could say as it contains all possible frequencies, it is actually very similar to white light. So if we would take this to the level of transparent objects, these would not change the light so much except maybe for ‘breaking’ the waves up revealing the full spectrum, like a prism. Corresponding to this on a sonic level we could say a transparent object, filter would let all frequencies pass through, resulting in noise in front of and behind the object (an ‘audio prism’ would then be an object that would break up the noise into all frequencies in a way that these are revealed/separated). A ‘transparent object’ when talking about sound wouldn’t necessarily need to be a ‘visually transparent object’. A simple example would be to say that some kind of textile that doens’t let any light/visual data pass could very well let all the noise pass through while a very thick glass window could be visually transparent but block all sounds at the same time. (Here we could also discuss the fact that sounds can auditively connect spaces which are visually separated and certain materials can keep a visual connection between spaces intact while separating them on the auditive level. But that might be all discussed in a following post.).

Similar to this we could say the same thing for reflecting light(visual data) and sounds(audio data). Some surfaces will reflect light, others will reflect sound waves. Some materials will reflect both light and sound, some only one of these two.

Discussing objects to be transparent/reflectors or not on the visual and the sonic level, is interesting and will probably be useful too, but it doesn’t yet help to define ‘transparent sound’ or ‘mirror sound’ in an interesting way yet. Lets keep this for a 3rd post.

Toshiya Tsunoda

Posted in MediaArt, Sound Art, Transmedia Research by tpdr on December 16, 2009

Long time since I made a post here, but that is also because I have been looking for inspiring artists and works. Since a few months I have been focussing on reading about architecture and sound. Doing this I got interested in Japanese sound artist Toshiya Tsunoda. His technique to do field recordings using contact microphones to capture the vibrations in different materials that are present at a certain location (or should I say in a certain ‘field’), captured my attention. Especially the fact that he focusses on these environmental vibrations points out that our environment is constantly in motion, it is alive. Also buildings can suddenly be thought of as ‘living things'(e.g. in 2000 at the ICC in Tokyo people could listen to the walls, to see pics and read more click here).

To hear some samples of one of his albums Solid Vibration click here. Inspired by his work I started thinking more about vibrations and the fact that even all we believe is immobile, our environments are in constant motion. Of course in some cases it is quiet clear that they are in motion, evolving, in flow, etc. But this is not always the case. Thinking about this I started wondering whether this could be somehow combined with my passion for mapping and cartography, taking into account that I have been working on a subjective mapping project in the past that was all about setting up a dynamic, personal/subjective map.

Building a Mediated Environment (video documentation)

Posted in Transmedia Research by tpdr on August 24, 2009

I have put a small sample video online to illustrate the experiments I have been doing with the minimal setup of a projector, a see-thru-mirror-wall and 2 rgb-pixeltracks. The video images porjected on the mirror foil and the wall behind it are of my own creation, even though they are a temporary version. The sound is a mix of my own remix of solar sounds provided by the SOHO (SOlar Heliospheric Observatory) with added sounds and bleeps from COH for the final part.

To see the video click here to be directed to the vimeo site.

Accrochages – Sofian Audry & Samuel St-Aubin

Posted in MediaArt by tpdr on December 14, 2008

Accrochages is a duo based in Montreal working on devices that will be attached to objects, furniture, etc. in the public space. No need to say more, except ‘check out the website‘.

Audio Space

Posted in MediaArt by tpdr on December 1, 2008

Theodore Watson is a designer, artist and experimenter interested in designing experiences that invite to play. One of his most famous projects might be the Laser Tag of Graffiti Research Lab and Funky Forest.


The project I would like to discuss here is called Audio Space and focuses on the correlation of memory, sound and space. His investigation of the effect of sound on architecture has led to a first Audio Space (2005) in which people would walk around with a headset. Without this headset the room/space just looks empty, once you get inside with the headset you hear the sounds that fill the room. Contrary to other interactive environments he made, this one involves sounds instead of visuals. This doesn’t mean it is not related to his other activities, as it is still an augmented space leading to a playful experience.


The first Audio Space used the sounds people made on the spot. In the latest version the sounds are still added by visitors only this time they are made more abstract. Abstract or literal, it doesn’t really matter as both Audio Spaces invite visitors to participate by adding new sounds although it is not forbidden to just explore the room/sounds as left behind by previous visitors.


Obviously I chose to write about this project because it is not like most projects labelled as Augmented Reality. This kind of installation works with a more ‘invisible’ augmented reality just as you could do similar projects using smell, taste or touch. An example of this last option is Invisible Maze made by Jeppe Hein. This project lets you experience invisible walls as your helmet vibrates every time you run into one.


Now I just won’t judge the projects I mentioned, I just wanted to use them as examples of interesting possibilities that might not have been explored enough at this time within the field of Augmented Reality. For me the most important fact to remember is that Augmented Reality doesn’t have to rely on visuals and it should be fascinating to explore the ‘Invisible Augmented Reality’ of taste, smell and touch.


This article is based on: Audio Space – An Interview with Theo Watson by Deanne Herst – Tagmag 06 – Augmented Reality: Superimposing the Virtual – p12-15