Conceptual Overview + Site Reflection [Miles]

Overview

This site-specific work builds on lessons learned from the New Clinic for Sensory Vitality event held last Saturday. In the clinic, one of the sensory treatments was a blind sound massage inside a human-sized bubble. This experience was immersive – but accommodating a series of patients was challenging as it takes five minutes to inflate the bubble. Many more people could experience the acoustics inside the bubble if – perhaps counterintuitively – no one actually enters the bubble. In this situation, a surrogate would remain inside the bubble and wear in-ear binaural mics to transmit her aural experience to the outside. This will have maximum impact if the bubble is situated at a distance from the viewer, such that they can see but not hear the activity near and inside it.

My father is a pilot, and some of my earliest sound experiences were hearing air traffic control communications on a headset. I want to relate this work to those early experiences by playing several live audio streams of air traffic control communications inside the bubble. The surrogate listener wears in-ear binaural mics and moves around the inside of the ball, affecting the timbre and dynamics of the sounds playing inside, from the perspective of the listener.

 

Site

Although the site for the New Clinic for Sensory Vitality worked well for a project of that scale, this installation requires significantly less space. Unlike the site for the clinic, which was open and connected, the site of this project should clearly separate the audience and the bubble. Another requirement or constraint is that the site be near a power outlet. Since the installation will only exist for a short period of time (unless I find a way to pump air into the bubble after inflation), it is important that it be located where many pedestrians will encounter it.

I’d like to attempt this project from the balcony of the Intelligent Workspace above the Margaret Morrison building, facing . I feel this would be a good place for the project since it forces viewers to look up from below, and this action is associated with watching airplanes in the sky. The balcony would also partially obscure the ball. I would need a helper on the ground to manage and distribute headphones with the wireless audio link. In the coming days, I will see if this location is a possibility.

 

diagram

The balcony off of the Intelligent Workspace

 

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One thought on “Conceptual Overview + Site Reflection [Miles]

  1. Another approach, if you wanted to be able to allow the installation to last longer, without having the fan noise that would be required to keep a fresh air supply, is to use a dummy head. Some binaural mics are actually set up like this by default–they can be quite pricey. They try to recreate the proportions associated with an ‘average’ human head. Instead, if you just used the in-ear kind, but found a dummy-head you could borrow, you might be able to have a decent response. I wonder how you will be setting up some of the equipment in the ball.

    Have you done any tests with speaker playback at all? Let’s talk sometime soon.

    -Abby

    A photo of an older dummy head binaural mic setup:

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