Thinking about immersive audio, space and sound design is part of the opening webinar Designing Sound and Music in the Age of Interactivity and Immersion presented at IMAGE CAMPUS on 2.3.2022. With the participation of Eugenio Taboada, Fabián Kesler, Ramiro Álvarez, Luciano Cabrera, Sol Rezza.
Immersive audio and the illusion of the space
We all have an idea, or several ideas, about what space is, especially about the space we are currently occupying. I propose a quick exercise to help you visualize it. In the next 10 seconds, draw a few lines on a piece of paper to represent the space you are in now.
Did you draw the space rectangular or square?
Or did you draw the space in a circular shape?
Did you draw other geometric shapes?
I usually ask this question in my workshops and talks and I almost always have a similar result.
A majority group draws the space between rectangular or square, taking more by the sense of sight. The other group draws the space circularly, from the sense of hearing. We listen in 360°. A few draw other geometric shapes of space.
Our western culture is mostly surrounded by square or rectangular architectural spaces, which significantly influence how we think about space.
But I propose to think of it differently.
When we talk about the concept of immersive audio, we refer to the psychological sensation of recreating or intensifying the illusion of a space through specific sound sources.
This is why immersive audio can play an important role in enhancing the listener’s psychological sensation of being in a particular environment. This is because immersive audio technology allows sound to be localized and placed in a three-dimensional space, creating a sound environment that resembles our immediate surroundings.
Immersive audio can also increase the listener’s sense of presence and spatial awareness. For example, in virtual reality (VR) environments, the use of immersive audio can create a more convincing sense of being in a particular place or space.
In addition, immersive audio can also enhance the emotional response that a particular space elicits in a person. For example, certain types of music or soundscapes played through immersive audio can create a sense of awe or wonder, which can enhance the listener’s psychological sense of being in a particular environment.
Overall, immersive audio technology can play an important role in enhancing the psychological sensation of spaces by creating a more compelling and immersive audio environment that improves spatial awareness and emotional response.
But it is difficult to recreate the illusion of a space, because we are not only talking about positioning sounds in a certain space, but also about achieving an emotional impact from the sound.
Through my own experience, I want to share with you how I think about the space in which an immersive narrative develops.
How I analyze the physical and virtual space in which the exhibition of the work finally takes place. Because these two spaces finally become one for the audience.
This analysis determines my production methods, the tools I use, the choice of the number of sound sources and even the fundamental frequencies that some sounds will have.
We are living through a profound technological revolution that completely changes the way we think and perceive space.
How do we make the most of the knowledge we already have, and these new technologies that help us recreate that illusion?