ACOUSTIC ATLAS













Acoustic Atlas


is a virtual acoustic map, for the cultivation of the capacity to listen to and connect with, remote heritage sites.



Acoustic Atlas invites people to sing and emit sound into virtual acoustic heritage environments and experience how their voices, as human sonar signals, reveal the hidden interiors, forms and textures of these heritage sites as well as the listener’s own imagination. 

Sound reveals space in an audio-tactile way that adds tremendous depth to our sense of corporeal presence and spatial awareness in any chosen environment. As our lives continue to expand into digital domains it is crucial that our digital ability to ‘listen’, as well as our awareness of the processes that shape this listening experience, are equally expanded.

The project  will combine sound art, composition, acoustics and environmental sound studies. Project objectives will be achieved through practice-led artistic research taking place within framework where scientific acoustic methods are applied and presented in a conservation context.

The main artistic action is the creation of a series of novel listening experiences that are connected to each studied cave. It allows for ‘virtual acoustic travel’ to these natural sites where people can interact, listen and create music with the acoustics of each space. The experience has various layers: the realtime live acoustic feedback from the listener’s mic input, another layer of field recordings of environmental sounds belonging to each site. Lastly a layer of sonic art.

Such listening experiences are enabled by a novel application of web-audio technology that is a unique ubiquitous site of ‘listening’. This application aims to involve a wide community of archaeoacousticians and researchers working in heritage acoustics, to make their work audible through the platform. Acoustic Atlas aims to advance the collection and sharing of acoustic measurements of heritage sites in such a way that it can be experienced both as information as well as in a direct sensory way as real-time, augmented audio.

Musical works are created for each site and various artists are invited to participate, so that the acoustic representations of these sites are accessible not only as scientific acoustic data, but also as art experiences, as immersive sound ecology listening encounters and as participatory interactive singing instances.

The fellowship aims to focus and promote heritage acoustics both locally (by recording natural UK sites) and globally (by creating a tool that researchers worldwide can use and apply to related work).









This project has received funding from the European Union’s Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Sklodowska-Curie grant agreement No 897905.

© 2020 Cobi van Tonder
Cultivating the Capacity to Listen