Session 6

Presenters: Sophie Rose, Cloud Unknowing, Robbie Pattinson

01:00pm: Sophie Rose Ode to My Frayed Nerves: Exploring Physical Trauma through Gestural Control in Surround Sound Environments

Ode to My Frayed Nerves is a composition for technology, extended voice (singing techniques that fall outside of Western Classical singing), and gesture that metaphorically represents the sensations that occur in my left hand due toa physical trauma. This paper discusses how these sensations are realized sonically, the accompanying performance gestures, the technology used to compose the work, and how this is contributing to a larger research project. It was composed for my doctoral thesis which investigates the bridge between voice and technology through embodiment (the intertwining perceptions of the brain, body, and objects in actions) and human-computer interaction (HCI –the study of the human’s engagement or interaction with computers and technology). The aim for the larger study is to enhance the connection between the mind and body and exploit the feedback loop that this creates in composition and performance through design.

The conceptual and methodological underpinnings of this study are rooted in embodiment studies and designing to deepen the user’s engagement in a technologically mediated activity. Interaction with an expressive object yields an experience (Dewey 1934) and engagement with the body is the basis for the construction of conscious experience. Therefore, the inclusion of bodily knowledge is essential to experiential focused design and experimentation. Data has been collected through self-reporting journal entries, audio-visual and audio recordings, and literature-based research. I frame the work through an autoethnographic, and therefore also écriture féminine, lens to document the interactions and assist in fleshing out the academic canon to normalize, diversify, and divulge non-masculine perspectives and experiences.

01:30pm: Cloud Unknowing Tangible Real-time Embodiment and Virtual Object Response (TREVOR): Towards a low-cost and immersive virtual reality Ambisonic environment

Virtual reality (VR) and surround sound audio reproduction technologies have become common and affordable through the popular adoption of virtual reality gaming platforms. These consumer systems are more accessible to creators than the expensive specialized studios and software packages used for making content for commercial productions. However, affordable VR audio tools to harness this new potential have not yet emerged. Additionally, the surround sound audio creation and manipulation tools that are currently available to these creators ignore or do not fully engage with the unique affordances of virtual reality. They restrict the agency of the user through the continued use of dated control paradigms rooted in skeuomorphism. Restricted agency diminishes the immediacy of the user’s engagement with the process of immersive artwork creation and is not in line with the aims of immersive artforms.

To address this issue, I designed a low-cost, immersive, audio manipulation environment comprised of commodity VR gaming hardware (the HTC Vive), Max/MSP and a low-cost, self-made Ambisonic dome (TREVOR). This paper evaluates how this accessible system can offer a greater agency to artists through the enhancement of embodiment, localization and flow. This initial phase is exploratory research for the physical and software design integration of a larger Ambisonic audio and visual toolset.

02:00pm: Robbie Pattinson A Novel System for Spatialised Electro-Acoustic Performance

FerroChord is a novel musical system created by the author as a mode of exploring electromagnetic string excitation as a spatial audio technique. The system takes the form of an array of eight electromagnetically actuated and mechatronically tuned chordophones with a centralized control system, forming a singular, spatialized, acoustic instrument. This paper details the design process and conceptual underpinning of this system, including the implementation of the system as a long-form installation work. Compositional affordances of the system are explored through the development of this installation with regard to spatialization, polyphonic tonality and non-western 12 tone pitch techniques. The system is explored both with regard to this realized installation and as compositional tool for future works. Situating itself in between the worlds of contemporary music composition and sound sculpture, FerroChord engages with a nuanced field of existing works from fields of luthierie, mechatronics and spatial audio.