Soundstage is one of five research projects that were developed as a result of the LIVE!Museum Project. All of these projects look at ways to enhance the on-site museum experience through the use of online technology. Soundstage looks at the possibility of creating a ‘live’ immersive soundscape that is personal, yet can be shared.
The Soundstage concept was inspired by the open-air site of the Jewry Wall Museum in Leicester. This is an archaeological site of a Roman Bath of which most of the remains are no higher than knee-level. With visitors mostly walking on top of the remains of the walls rather than navigating the old rooms it seems likely that many visitors have a spatial experiences that is very different from the original building. This prompted the question how visitors could be given a better spatial understanding of the original building without using visual augmented reality devices.
Contemporary audio design makes it possible for people to experience 3D sound. Rather than speakers being the source of a sound or headphones producing sounds that are ‘far away’ or ‘near’, headphones can now produce sound that seems to come from a specific location. With this technology it could be possible to rebuild rooms and buildings that are in ruins with the use of sound, but it can also be used to bring to life empty spaces and to let visitors experience historic moments (like a famous battle) in-situ through sound. Through their movement visitors can create their own unique experience, but at the same time they can choose to share (parts of) this experience with the people they are visiting with.
Through various discussions the following research questions were developed:
How can non-linear, non-linguistic sound be used to evoke emotions and create an atmosphere? How can acoustic reconstruction be used at various types of heritage sites? And how can we provide for shared embodied interaction through the use of sound?
To produce a 3D sound stage for use internally or externally which responds to the movement and position of the listener. The experience will be shared within the visitor group, allowing for social interaction. The soundscape can be ‘live’ in a subtle way by responding to the weather, or it can be ‘live’ in the sense that visitors can choose or create their own experience beforehand.
To explore the differences between the soundscape and a more traditional audio tour.
To research the effectiveness of the soundscape. Is it possible to create an immersive environment in the proposed way?
To identify the most sustainable and cost-effective design.
The members of the Soundstage project team are:
Clare Cooper-Hammond – Director of Marketing and Commercial Strategy, Antenna Audio Limited
Jonathan Hale – Architect & Reader, Nottingham University, department of Architecture
Matt Haycocks – Director Standard 8
Serena Iervolino – PhD Student, University of Leicester, department of Museum Studies
Alex Moseley – Educational Designer, Course Development Unit, University of Leicester
Nick Toms – Design Assistant, Design and Exhibitions Team, Leicester Museums and Galleries