Tuesday, April 19, 2005

Virtual Reality

I often play a game on my commute called ITO Ratio, or iPod-to-other ratio. Today's game was notable for two reasons. First the ratio was a crazy 15:7 (usually it's 1:4 or 5). Secondly, this one lady was totally in the zone... she was quietly, but audibly and I must add, quite earnestly belting out a ballad.

Which got me to thinking of some early articles on iPod phenomenology, and our hearing in general, and the notion that virtual reality has been more effectively captured through sound than through sight. Optical virtual reality has required filling up our peripheral vision, or wearing un-reality 3D glasses, but headphones, especially noise cancelling headphones much more effectively shuts out other senses. We don't really need a high-tech instrument to measure out the validity of this claim, we need only think of generations of fat headphones and hifi's that take us to bliss, or more viscerally, a great concert.

I remember George Lucas musing in the 90s or so that there was far more movies should do with sound given what they've done with graphics... and then created THX.

But back to virtual reality.... though music is transformative, there other forms of audio reality. One of my favorite artists is Janet Cardiff, who creates sound and video art, so arrestingly real that you lose yourself quite literally. Her work is so transformative that I make a point of it to take friends to experience her work whenever I can.

She often employs
binaural audio, " recorded using miniature microphones placed in the ears of a person or sometimes a dummy head. The result is an incredibly life-like 3-D reproduction of sound. Played back on a stereo headset it is almost as if the recorded events were taking place live". She's done several audio tours at SF MoMA, Carnegie Mellon, Central Park, and some great installation works: 40-Part Motet and her Venice Biennale prize winner The Paradise Institute. Bomb had a nice interview with her a few years ago.


Blogger Nancy Drew said...

What ballad was she belting out? I think that's crucial to the story. Also, are you saying there are usually more iPods that others or the other way around?

Tuesday, 19 April, 2005  
Blogger Sam Teigen said...

I'm not sure what song it was, but I was thinking maybe a Kelly Clarkson, Lionel Richie, or best of all Richard Marx.

Usually there is 1 iPod for every 4 or 5 others, though I know this is skewed by folks who are upgrading to black noise canceling phones. So to see 3:1 was extraodinary. further oberservations will be skewed by the adoption of white ear buds for the otherwise all black PSP.

Wednesday, 20 April, 2005  

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