Acoustic Atlas is a multi-faceted project that combines acoustic studies, sound art, visualisation art, sound ecology,  archaeology, heritage fields, VR, AR, spatial audio, interactive design, map making and music. This page aims to give descriptions of how these fields apply and combine to form something unique.

About Auralisation

The sonic component of the virtual reconstruction of a site is termed ‘auralisation’. For example, a person recorded singing in an anechoic chamber (an acoustically dry space, with no sound reflections), can be made to sound as though they were singing in a large cathedral, or a cave or any given acoustic space for which the data is available..

Acoustics provide important real-time spatial information about the environment: sound cues such as perceived loudness, spatial position, reverberation and perceived distance, are intuitively interpreted by humans to make sense of the size and shape of their environment.

About the slogan: ‘Cultivating the Capacity to Listen’

In the light of ‘urgency of climate change’, Donna Haraway responds with the creation of the term ‘sym-poiesis’ - a making together as well as 'response-ability’ which is a ‘cultivation through which we render each other capable, that cultivation of the capacity to respond’.  (Anthropocene, Capitalocene, Chthulhocene - Donna Haraway in conversation with Martha Kenney, p255).

Acoustic Atlas renders us capable, to listen. We take action (respond) through active listening - rendering each other capable to listen. By doing so, we refine our ability respond better. The project is a sym-poiesis of virtual acoustic map making, not only of heritage sites, but containing the history, mystery and consciousness surrounding and embedded within each site and what that mirrors in our imaginations.  The cultivation of the capacity-to-listen-to and connect beyond time and space. 

Acoustic Atlas invites people to sing into virtual acoustic caves (and into a virtual darkness). Such an experience allows for a phenomenological connection with the remote site and meditative pondering of meaning, listening and play.

Acoustic Atlas is a virtual acoustic map making project with a social engagement agenda. Conservation as creative participatory journey. 

How to record the acoustic characteristics of a space?

Preservation is done by collecting room impulse responses (RIRs) of each cave, to enable the creation
of auralisations.

To collect the room impulse responses (RIR), a sine-sweep test signal is played through a loudspeaker and recorded through an Ambisonics microphone. This
allows the researcher to capture the spatial characteristics of each location. For a full study of each space, the researcher will choose a set of source and receiver positions.

The source positions are where the loudspeaker will be positioned and correspond to parts of the space in which natural or artificia sources are present. The receiver positions correspond to listener positions. A room impulse respons is captured for every source-receiver combination, allowing for a full acoustic mapping of each space.   In the context of intangible heritage, virtual reconstructions of world heritage sites are becoming increasingly useful to allow for multi-sensory immersive access, research and conservation.

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