Mute

Yvan vander Sanden & Zimcke Van de Staey (BE)

Pushing location based media art to the limit: technical challenges and solutions

The current use of location based sound art for mobile devices is quite straightforward. Honorable exceptions not withstanding, projects often go no further than linking predefined zones to one or more sounds. While this approach is certainly interesting because of its low entry barrier – even the most casual listener will instantly understand the correlation between position and sound – it will not aid us in sustaining interest in this art form for very long.

In the presentation of Mute, a few alternative approaches to sound/location mapping with more surprising and varying results are discussed. This can be attained by indirect interpretation of the GPS signal itself – as Mute has done in their LineWalk application – and also by combining GPS with the multitude of readily available sensors.

Of course there are some hurdles to be expected: implementing sensor based interaction is no small task for the digital artist. And to add to our challenges, the mobile market is still highly fragmented. It’s not enough to write your software just for Android or iOS.This is why Mute proposes to piggyback on the game industry: game developers use the same means for a different outcome.

While more general software development continues to struggle with delivering Android, iOS and Windows phone versions of their software, cross platform mobile development in particular is already quite mature within the gaming industry. And as far as sensors and interface programming go, there are several game engines available that make it possible with ease.

However, there is one thing missing: imaginative audio support. It would be a shame to go the extra mile when it comes to being creative with interaction, while at the same time being limited by a sound interface that will do little more than play sounds at certain locations.

In this matter, the options are limited. LibPD for one can be a useful tool, but it feels a bit like programming your interface directly in openGL. A more high-level sound engine – preferably one that combines a 3D positioning system, DSP processing, software synths and composition tools – would be welcome. Yvan vander Sanden and Zimcke Van de Staey finish their presentation with a modest proposal in this direction.

Full paper: Symposium Locative Media and Sound Art_Mute_Full paper

More info: http://mutecode.com/

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