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Friday, March 27 • 1:30pm - 3:00pm
Session 1 Paper Stream 3: Acoustic Ecology and Virtual Places

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Session 1 Paper Stream 3: Acoustic Ecology and Virtual Places

Brandon Mechtley: "Acoustic Ecology in the Age of Listening Machines: Quantitative Metrics for Holistic Soundscape Characterization"
The study of acoustic ecology is concerned with the manner in which life interacts with its environment as mediated through sound. As such, a central focus is that of the soundscape: the acoustic environment as perceived by a listener. R. Murray Schafer described the challenge of studying the soundscape as follows: "To give a totally convincing image of a soundscape would involve extraordinary skill and patience: thousands of recordings would have to be made, tens of thousands of measurements would have to be taken, and a new means of description would have to be devised." With modern advances in computing and storage, many of these challenges seem to be less daunting, but care must be taken to ensure that we understand the implications of the metrics we use to represent and classify soundscapes. Techniques in computational auditory scene analysis and bioacoustics allow for large-scale passive acoustic monitoring efforts, but many focus on the analysis of specific types of acoustic events, often separated from their context. This paper will provide an overview of several quantitative metrics and computational methods that can assist in holistic studies of soundscapes and will discuss several possible applications and directions for experimental design.

Emmanuel Galvan Martinez: "Mexican Changing Soundscapes: The Potential of Acoustic Ecology and Sound Inclusive Art to Create Social and Environmental Awareness in Mexico"
We, as a society, have created an environment full of sonic imprints and, whether we realize it or not, contribute actively to its contents. Sound, along with other cultural factors, forms a latent aural print of our existence in a particular space, offering in this way the possibility to better understand the places we inhabit. By challenging the predominating visual approach of society, sound can force the listener to experience reality in a more intimate way. The sonic richness of Mexican culture and its identity provides an interesting opportunity for acoustic ecology and other sound inclusive disciplines to convey and express meaningful messages of social and environmental awareness. This paper considers the relationship between the sonic identity of a location and the power of sound to transmit meaning, and to explore the possibilities of using acoustic ecology and other sonic inclusive artworks to create environmental and social awareness in Mexico. The author’s artistic perspective and two specific case studies are used to provide a discussion on how Mexican sound-inclusive art holds the potential to reinforce a deeper understanding of some of the country’s current and most significant environmental and social issues. 

Phylis Johnson and Jay Jay Jegathesan: "Hearing in Numbers: Virtual Sound as Next Nature" 
As we become increasingly interconnected with technology, we lose track of our physical reference points. One of the last frontiers of virtual worlds is sound, returning full circle to the primacy of aurality as noted in the work of Atwood, McLuhan, Lacey, Ong, Schafer, and others. This discussion considers how sonification is an utopian concept for explaining and creating immersive experiences within virtual worlds, as well as the dystopian downbeat to our reliance on technology. Within such spaces, acoustic designers increasingly quantify the varying sonic levels of objects and environments, and spatially arrange them to reflect human hearing (acknowledging variations in individual aural perception as well as variables impacting environmental acoustics as much as possible). When creating an acoustic environment within a virtual realm, one accounts for these nuances in establishing an emotive connection to the listeners. 

Is it possible to design a virtual world that replicates real life to the extent aural senses are confounded, and what are the social implications of blurring worlds? This paper/presentation investigates the significance and potential consequences of quantifying aural experiences, by recording, archiving and calculating them for placement within an artificial environment. Object sonification, to some extent, has been employed in experimental research directed at helping visually impaired persons to "see" their surroundings acoustically, using strategically placed sonic data. On the other hand, is there a point where technology and nature might become assimilated, and isn't that happening now - a second nature of sound? 

A 2007 essay reprinted on Koert van Mensvoort 's web site "What is Next Nature" by Joop de Boer ("Spatial Planning: Learning from Second Life), called attention to the entertainment value of reimagined/recreated environments. This presentation continues the discussion several years later, with a focus on acoustic ecology in virtual worlds given the push toward recruiting sound engineers by Linden Lab, the creator of Second Life. 

The authors report on lessons learned from an-ongoing university partnership (USA-Australia) that explores applications of sound archival and design within virtual environments, using dedicated space in Second Life as a site of experimentation and "Sound Art & Practice" course instruction.  


Kotoka Suzuki

Kotoka Suzuki is a composer focusing on both multimedia and instrumental practices. She has produced several large-scale multimedia works, including spatial interactive audio-visual work for both concert and installation settings, often in collaboration with artists and scholars from... Read More →


Jay Jay Jegathesan

Jay Jay Jegathesan, PhD Candidate, is Manager of the School of Physics at the University of Western Australia. He is also the Sim Founder/Owner of University of Western Australia SL, where he has established several international university and organization partnerships virtually... Read More →

Phylis Johnson

Dr. Phylis Johnson is Professor of Sound & New Media in the College of Mass Communication & Media Arts at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale. She is Editor of Soundscape: The Journal of Acoustic Ecology and the Editor of The Journal of Radio and Audio Media. She has written... Read More →

Emmanuel Galvan Martinez

Sound Artist.Born in Guadalajara, Mexico, Emmanuel was awarded a bachelors degree in sound production (School for Audio Engineering - SAE Institute, Sydney) in 2011 and a masters in creative industries, with a major in music & sound (Queensland University of Technology) in 2013.His... Read More →

Friday March 27, 2015 1:30pm - 3:00pm MST
Art 246 900 S. Forest Mall Tempe, AZ 85281

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