Panel 5: Reflections on Immersive Audio Storytelling

Panel 5: Reflections on Immersive Audio Storytelling

Ralph Hoyte, Lissa Holloway-Attaway and Jamie Fawcus and Mary McDonald

In Satsymph: artistic, dramatic and academic-interpretation applications of mobile sensor-triggered audio, Ralph Hoyte presents a run-through of Satsymph’s approach to the artistic and dramatic applications of augmented soundscape-making in the areas of contemporary classical music, contemporary poetry and dramatized heritage scenarios as well as the application of located audio storytelling as a tool to interpret and popularise academic discourses in the areas of historical research, archaeology and the natural sciences. The trajectory and potential for immersive audio storytelling is then projected forwards on the basis of Satsymph’s current work and their projects, thoughts and aspirations for the future against the background of on-going developments in the field. Platform development is also discussed, from the initial ‘Mediascape’ (HP) platform in 2003-4, through Calvium’s ‘Appfurnace’ (until 2019), to the development of their own tools (from 2019) which allow Satsymph to create spatialised, sensor-triggered, interactive soundscapes.

In Composing New Audio Worlds: transcription and transgression, Lissa Holloway-Attaway and Jamie Fawcus examine how in Insect Media, Jussi Parikka frames his discussion of ‘media as insect ’as a way to foreground media as more-than-technology and more-than-mediation. Insect media do not exist as a site between the natural world and the constructed, built, or human world. They are in/out of both at once.

In their paper, which Holloway-Attaway and Fawcus have submitted in the form of an audio walk, they explore/perform what it means to inhabit, discover, and become such an insect body, an effective mediator transcribing experience from a place of distributed non-human identity. Their focus is to explore alternative modes for engaging with critical theoretical models such as posthumanism, new materialism, non-humanism, and experimental electroacoustic music composition. These perspectives resist stable, cognitive subject identities for processing the world and its natural orders and rhythms, and create new conceptual spaces for composition and creation. The embodied design-states they imagine are formulated through generation of distributed agencies/embodiments, fragmentation (literary and sonic), affective acoustic space-making, and psychoacoustic manipulation.

Their audio content includes narrative voice but also incorporates psychoacoustic phenomena such as auditory brainwave entrainment, binaural beats, and the fragmentation/granulation of sound materials that decentralise and deconstruct the sounding world. They work to create resonant and reflective acoustic space, meant to be engaged by a single listener using headphones in solitude while in motion. Their aim is to ‘discuss’ the theoretical material focused on embodied non-human sites for mediation, while also helping to create emergent and resonant sound-space that re-orients the listener to experience the world in novel ways. They also hope to find new ways to consider academic engagement with complex theoretical models via creative, performative practice. How, they ask, can we be more-than when we compose and create? And how can the ear offer unique affordances to support novel engagement?

Times in Sound, Letters of War, stems from Mary McDonald’s research and artistic interests in polyphonic narratives of shared experiences, the individual voice within the collective chorus, the importance of place in layered meanings, and illumination through the juxtaposition of dissonance and harmony. Over 700 recordings of fragments of WW1 Letters written by soldiers and their friends and family were composed into a 360 binaural pan sound work, mapped and geo-fenced.

Times in Sound as an event, either accessed as geo-locative media or through the web, brings the sound of these times, the real conversations that crossed and re-crossed the ocean into the ears, and mapped around the bodies of the listeners.Through the binaural editing process of individually placing each sound fragment of Times in Sound, the listener is mapped into the centre of the work, is positioned at the epicentre of the sound. A three dimensional space is thus created, with the audience at the centre and surrounded by the fragments of text. The sounds are mapped simultaneously around the body of the listener, on the world map, and in the networked air around the geocode locations of the letters’ origins and destinations. The listener will find that they are at times crowded round with sound, with voices pressing in from all sides and at others that there is only one voice close by or a few addressing them from a distance. Times in Sound, mediated aural experience, invites the audience to listen to and consider the viewpoints expressed in the letters, surrounded by the sound of the place, to allow these stories to enter their body and their memory, as both current and historical time passes.