Updatez

So, Phoebe and I have been experimentin’ and we thought we’d update our internet fans with our findings. As stated and shown below, a portion of our research included taking “binaural walks“. The set-up included Phoebe wearing the binaural mic headband while I walked next to her, holding the zoom and listening with the headphones. Originally designed to be a test recording our the different possibilities of binaural, it ended up being an intense audio experience itself.

Because I was hearing 3D sound from the perspective of Phoebe but physically in my location, it ended up being quite disorienting. Even if Phoebe’s head was tilted slightly, the effect of hearing a car go past was enough for my mind to almost visually render it happening at an impossibly skewed position.

Based on these walks, we arrived at an entirely different position in our project. Our attention span strings had been tugged in a different direction. We now want to incorporate the binaural walks into our presentation. We turned to the idea of the Art of Memory(Ars Memorativa), which specifically means using physical locations and items to reference and organize memory making, into a our base thesis. “Techniques commonly employed in the art include the association of emotionally striking memory images within visualized locations, the chaining or association of groups of image” We are interested in the idea of having a memory tied to location, and experiencing that memory from a different location.

“Interest in spatial hearing is interdisciplinary. Important contributions to research on the subject have come from fields as diverse as psychology, psychophysics, physiology and medicine on the one hand, and engineering, physics and musical analysis on the other,”(Blauert xi.) By researching the history of binaural recording and found it to be heavily embedded in the militarty. Since the set-up for spatial hearing is the technique that most accurately mimics how the human ear “hears” it has been incorporated into studies of virtual reality(also heavily embedded in military funding). How engaging and realistic does this video sound?

Another surprising avenue of binaural audio is that of hearing aids. Since hearing aids are used to replicate yet amplify surround sounds, using binaural technology has helped created a directional mic shaped to pick up sounds similar to the way the human ear does. Previously, monaural was the standard way to implement hearing aids, but localization abilities diminished.
Now, in terms of our project, we decided to take people on “Binaural Walks.”

The event will include having the participators put on a binaural set-up and be taken on a guided tour. Certain events will transpire, and the participators are encouraged to have dialogue amongst themselves and the tour guide, in addition to have a certain amount of physical elasticity within the guided path. The group will then return to the “classroom” or original location, and then have a group listening session. After this, there will be a discussion on people’s experience with both the walk AND the listening to a different perspective. This discussion will also be archived in a binaural fashion.
We did a test walk today with our two schoolmates, Phil Woolf and Michelle Doyle.

Their separate audio files are below. Feel free to have a listen!

MIchelle’s Walk

Phil’s Walk

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Binaural Piano

Here is an example of the kind of thing we recorded on our test round. You get an idea of the binaural effect (but you must wear headphones!). The video has curiously data-moshed itself, which, at first, I was sure Jill was responsible for since she has just data-moshed her trailer, her grad film, other’s grad films, a re-cut of Russian Ark, and all of Tarkovsky’s work. She has been physically reduced to a cluster of gyrating pixels (hopefully she will feature in our next clip).

The Paper Work

Our final project for the experiments in Binaural sound will be a three-part podcast play, recorded in 3D sound. Each episode will span the same event, but will be “heard” from a different perspective( think Russian Ark meets Vantage Point )

We have three characters(the three perspectives the listener will hear from): Jill, Phoebe and You. We wrote out a series of events, and in each episode, those events overlap, but are heard from a different set of ears. We figured the best way to “script” this was through a series of maps
Jill Episode One
Episode One
Phoebe Episode Two
Episode 2
You Episode Three
Episode 3
After mapping our episodes, we thought of the different items/sound possibilities we could interact with along the way. We did a series of recordings, both in the room and around the school. We banged lockers, closed doors, entered galleries, drank from fountains, played with the phone out front.
After listening to our trial tracks, we noted what was interesting and useful to our episodes.

From there, we made our recordings! Coming up: our test recordings and updates on our episode post production.

Testing

Getting set up. Jill is listening to my point of view (although point of hearing might be more politically correct).

In the Media Gallery. The dentist waiting room muzak in the piece was too offensive to miss. Plus the space has nice reverb.

Trying out the phone. This took some adjusting since, whoever is wearing the microphones can’t actually hear what’s being recorded.

More dial tones.

Some outside listening. The panning effect is really audible with a passing car.

Listening to the wind. I tried cupping my hands to my ears to get some variation in the tone of the wind. It worked quite well.

Assembly

Above is a picture of the microphone attached to its magnetic clip.

Pictured above is the Zoom hooked up with the wire contraption (a bit like a metal headband). The headband is fitted to my (Phoebe) ears and head (see personalizing factor: small kink at top). The microphones are attached to the earpiece of the headband (see below).

Here is a close-up of the microphone attached to the ear (taking macro photos of freakish-looking body parts is a sobering experience) As you can see, the headband loops around the earlobe and hovers just outside the ear. The microphone would ideally be more snugly nestled inside the ear, but I think this is as close as we’re going to get. More pictures of contraption in action to come.

Getting Started

Pictured above are some of the tools Jill and I plan to use for our binaural recording project. At the top right hand corner you will find a roll of mechanics wire – scavenged from the bottom of my tool bag, a relic from 1st year sculpture class. You’ll see below that we have used this wire in order to make a contraption to fasten the microphones to ears. Bottom left is a pair of pliers, used previously to shape aforementioned sculpture projects: now a little creaky with age. These are for cutting, shaping and fitting the wire contraption. Top left, you will see a roll of surgical tape, equipped with kind adhesive, handy for attaching microphone wires to skin without later giving the wearer a bald strip.

We will be using a zoom H4n recorder as it is light and portable, and once secured onto whomever is the subject, will allow for enough agility while reducing risk of self-generated noise (in comparison with the 702, which is a little more burly and perhaps not as politely discreet). The pair of closed headphones are helpful when setting up the zoom, but I imagine they would become cumbersome quite quickly if worn during recording, and would probably develop into an impromptu game of skipping rope between listener and donner of recording device. If you’re trying this out, I strongly advise against wearing both the microphones AND the headphones, unless feedback tickles you. So once you have everything set up, tuck the headphones in your belt until playback.

Featured above is a selection of parts from a fantastic lavalier microphone kit (very generously lent to us by Greg Boa). It’s my understanding that these omnidirectional microphones are most effective when trying to produce a binaural result. They are also tiny enough to fit snugly inside the (external) ear, as will be shown in later pictures. The smaller windsocks are slightly more dignifying, but if in public, the larger versions make strangers suffer from so much second-hand embarrassment that they look away, cross the street, or even screech to a halt before scurrying back from whence they came, leaving you to roam in freedom. The two circular pieces on the far right are magnets, used to clip the microphones onto the wire contraption (see below). Organizing the magnets for the photo was a challenge since, naturally, they refused to sit very close to one-another.

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