filmachine is a multichannel spatial audio & visual installation by artists Keiichiro Shibuya and Takashi Ikegami currently installed at the Podewils’sches Palais (ex Tesla) in Berlin, for Transmediale 2008. The description on the transmediale website goes as follows:
filmachine places the visitor inside a vortex of sound and light that transcends the traditional perspective of the cinematic experience. Three circles of loudspeakers are suspended from the ceiling above an abstract landscape. On entering the space, the visitor starts the composition with a button at the center of the piece, triggering an immersive audio-visual experience in a 3-dimensional soundscape, enhanced by a specially designed LED lighting system. For the exhibition in Berlin, Keiichiro Shibuya creates a new composition which is presented here as a world premiere.
There’s a whole lot more information on their website under Mapping Sound Installations, where interestingly (to me at least - since I was product manager for this beast a few years back), they mention they perform the spatialisation on a Lake Huron digital audio convolution workstation (to use its full name):
The 3D acoustic system “Huron,” developed by the Lake Technology Company in Australia, enables us to powerfully program the orientation, movement and locations of sound images along the time line. The system not only provides an ideal sound experience in a fixed point, but makes it possible to create a new acoustic space where we can perceive the autonomous movement of sound stream on a virtual 3D space. “Filmachine” uses various kind of objects ranging from variations of spiral motions to strange attractors (e.g. Lorentz, Roessler, and Langford) that appear in nonlinear systems, and the displayed sound pattern itinerates among those complex dynamics with different time scales.
The project certainly sounds very interesting and I wish I could pop over to Berlin this week to experience it. For me one of the immediate intrigues is the way the artists have encouraged visitors to explore the physical (and virtual aural) space through the use of the constructed topography. The blocks seem designed to attract people to move through different points within the soundfield - and to stay a while in various places - standing or possibly sitting on the edges of each zone. The use of different height zones within the soundfield also gives vertical perspective and highlights the 3D-ness of the virtual aural space - which is not just 2D spatial audio like many installations. Having experienced many surround sound spaces and watched many other people, I’ve noticed how inexperienced listeners/visitors are often reluctant to move around a space and listen from various perspectives, while the less inhibited spatial audio geeks look silly moving back and forth, standing then squatting close to the floor… listening to the sound change (often for the phasiness of reflections caused by the surrounding acoustic environment or mixing between speakers). The solution presented by filmachine is quite wonderful, especially since it adds so much even apart from these ideas I just mentioned.
Lovely looking/sounding work. If anyone checks it out, I’d love to hear your impressions here - please post a comment!