02 Sep 2012 to 02 Sep 2012
This presentation will introduce will introduce the concept of soundscape – the acoustic manifestation of place – and discuss why and how soundscape could be included as part of the digital earth agenda.
Perception of our physical environment involves all the human senses – vision, hearing, touch, taste and smell. The digital environments we use to understand existing contexts and plan interventions are predominantly visual, and the Digital Earth agenda is no exception. Of the other senses, hearing can be readily integrated with existing technologies used for Digital Earth. We argue that engagement with physical space and our enjoyment of successful urban places depends as much on the acoustic ambiance as the visual perspective. Sound is also the medium through which the richness of functional activity and the dynamic of daily and seasonal rhythms are tacitly communicated. While it has been possible to include sound within 3D virtual environments for some time, there has being minimal investigation of the capacity for spatialized sound to enhance decision making when considering urban interventions. Our experience with soundscapes embedded in 3D virtual environments has been in the context of design education, sound pollution and public installation. Examples are presented to illustrate some of the potential of embedding soundscape within 3D virtual environments.
One of the key issues for Digital Earth is to balance quantitative information on environmental performance with the qualitative cultural dimensions of place and society. Our hypothesis is that the qualitative aspect of the digital earth agenda can be enhanced by embedding soundscape – the acoustic manifestation of place – within visual representations. This hypothesis opens up multiple questions: How does consideration of soundscape impact on our understanding of physical context, particularly when considering the impact of design interventions? Does sound make a significant impact, when consulting with stakeholders and the general public? What are the technical issues and techniques required to incorporate spatialized sound in virtual environments? How might sound installations in the real world be synced with and augment virtual environments? Through initial consideration of these questions, we outline an agenda for Digital Earth AV. In conclusion a proposal that explores some of these issues in the context of an art installation is outlined.