Networked_Music_Review

Synapse and Sonic Landscapes

synapse.jpgSynapse: Collaboration between the arts and sciences has the potential to create new knowledge, ideas and processes beneficial to both fields. Artists and scientists approach creativity, exploration and research in different ways and from different perspectives; when working together they open up new ways of seeing, experiencing and interpreting the world around us. For the past decade, the Australian Network for Art & Technology (ANAT) has provided opportunities for artists and scientists to work together. Through Synapse, and in partnership with the Australia Council for the Arts, ANAT offers residencies, the Synapse Database and now ANAT is pleased to announce its latest initiative: a moderated elist discussion on contemporary art and science collaborations in fields including bioart, artificial intelligence, robotics, climate change and space, amongst others. You can subscribe here.

Browsing the Synapse Database — which is searchable by “Individuals”, “Interests”, “Projects / Events / Publications,” “Organizations” and “Gallery” — I came across Nigel Helyer’s Sonic Landscapes R + D project:

From June 1999 until September 2001, Helyer worked as an Artist in Residence at Lake Technology in Sydney, developing the Sonic Landscapes Virtual Audio Reality system … The salient feature of the Sonic Landscapes project is the juxtaposition of a fictive (but very convincing) 3D immersive sound-scape, accurately positioned by cartographic software, upon a physical terrain. The effect is somewhat akin to Murray Schafer’s concept of ‘Schitzophonia’, where, by the simple act of recording, sound is split from its original physical context and projected into another context.

However within a Sonic Landscapes experience we are not simply dealing with the disembodied voices of popular music reproduced and re-contextualised via a stereo-sytem! Here we are engaging with a seemingly live sonic organism that is responsive to our presence, our orientation and the traces of our wanderings, and which appears un-cannily embedded in the site itself.

The prototype Sonic Landscapes Unit is capable of operating with a 2cm positional accuracy when employing differential GPS (Global Satellite Positioning) and with a one degree accuracy for rotational head orientation, which, when combined with Lake’’s headphones delivered virtual speaker array, provides a highly realistic immersive audio environment. Tracking technology for the Sonic Landscapes project has been provided throughout by the SNAP Lab of the University of New South Wales under the guidance of Professor Chris Rizos. Future collaborative projects are currently underway between the Artist and UNSW c.f. “Audio Nomad”.The choice of a prototype test site for the project was St Stephens graveyard in Newtown; one of Sydney’s oldest burial grounds, which provided an ideal pedestrian environment, rich in historical material and interesting physical structures.


Feb 28, 2008
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Networked_Music_Review (NMR) is a research blog that focuses on emerging networked musical explorations.

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