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A spatial study for 43 channels of surround audio that explores spatial geometry and functions.

Created in Queens University Sonic Lab, for 43-channels (see images). Incorporating IRCAM’s ~SPAT library. My contribution was to send various gestures (built from Karl ESSL’s Max Library) to the motion envelopes of the SPAT spherical control nodes. IMPLODE/EXPLODE enables 62 independent sound sources to be routed in a 44-channel speaker space. Sounds explode and implode from the centre of the space and expanding in all directions of the sphere whilst incorporating complex reverberation distance cues.

One motivation was so explore how big the extreme between close and far in space can sound. However, the high level controls of motion allowed me to assign oscillators to the movement and create super fast panning, beyond anything realistic, but creating sensational shifts in spatiality comparable to when matter change into liquid or gas and back at great speed.

Spatial Perception versus Spatial Cognition (Fragment - full essay HERE )

The original title of my work was ‘Spherical Perceptions’ which is an exact description of the visual picture that I hold in my imagination of the sonic landscape as a sphere. In this visualisation, sounds originate at the centre of the sphere (which is also the listener - thus the term egocentric) and travel outwards or inwards between the centre and the surface of the sphere. In the listening setting, sounds are created with the ideal listening position in the centre of the sound field. My idea was first of all a visual projection of a way in which I experience the relationship between my own body and space, which then I desired to map into sound. Research show that auditory perception behaves differently. Often composers/creatives superimpose a cognitive idea on an auditory situation, when in reality the two worlds differ dramatically. This phenomenological space where body/mind/imagination/reality boundaries blur is in itself a very interesting site, but can be very misleading and result in results that often don't live up to the original ideas.

From years of training Seven Star Paying Mantis Kung Fu and Tai Chi, I developed a sense of

internal space which is perhaps not as obvious as I had come to think. In the Mantis stance which

one holds for 40min and longer at a time, one does continuous breathing or shifting of energy which

is an exercise of extreme opposites: extreme relaxation whilst holding a difficult pose which is

taxing on especially the legs but also torso and arms. The lower body is strong and the upper body

is relaxed like a twig in the wind. Even though one is standing, the knees are soft and it’s like one

is sitting on an imaginary high chair. Again the muscles are working hard to maintain the semi

squatted position whilst the mind believes that one is sitting on a chair and actually relaxing. The

fingertips are extremely taught and aware, while the arms and shoulders are extremely soft and

relaxed. The dante (point slightly below the navel) is tight like a ball. The body is trained to be

soft yet push out force in all direction of a sphere. One imagines to be a ball floating in space.

Eventually in fighting this allows for ultimate balance, ultimate ways to deflect incoming force

(punch, kick etc) - the softness allowing to be fast and flow like water around the attack whilst the

tautness allows for agility in reacting. In chi training, the beginner’s ‘ball’ is small. Through

continuous training, the ball gets bigger and bigger. With the breath, it feels like one is inhaling the

entire planet and solar system, bringing it into the size of ones centre point (dante) (almost like

swallowing the world), with the exhalation, one swells, so that one’s body as as big as the world

(universe - thus the imagination)[8]. I have forgotten about this practice, but came to realise that

this is exactly where my idea for the spatial music piece comes from - I wanted to imitate Qigong

breathing (the breathing described) via musical events in space.

In “Three Spaces of Spatial Cognition’ Barbara Tversky, (Professor in Cognitive Psychology) discusses spatial perception in terms of experience: our knowledge of space is unlike geometry or physical measurements of space, constructed on objects in space as opposed to only space itself. It is thus the relationships that we have with objects in space that are important in spatial cognition. For example when we are navigating through space to find our way in a forest or when we reach out to pick up a fruit to eat it, or sit down on a chair. The three spaces of spatial cognition are the space of navigation (conceptualised as a two-dimensional plane, like a map), the space around the body (in contrast to navigational space and seen from a single point of view that can also be conceptualised schematically this time in three dimensions) and finally the space of our own bodies (including our own sensations experienced from the inside as well as the outside). All of these are essential for our survival in the world (Tversky, Barbara. Three Spaces of Spatial Cognition. Accessed on 25 May 2012 online at

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