Commissioned by Moviola (FACT), Tramway and Film & Video Umbrella for V-Topia:Visions of a Virtual World, Tramway, Glasgow
Sometimes termed as ‘Virtual Reality’ audio, 3d audio is capable of objectifying sound, and giving it a specific spatial location.
Working with infra-red cordless headsets, AudioZone uses 3d audio to create a parallel world of experience inside viewers heads.
At Tramway, the audio was transmitted from both audio CD and computer sources into specific areas (zones) within the gallery space. When wearing a headset, the viewer encountered an invisible wall of ‘noise’ on entering or exiting these zones, and could navigate their own experience accordingly.
The use of 3d audio increases the potential for ‘suggestion’ as a powerful element in the work. AudioZone transmits suggested experiences to the viewer . In one Zone the viewer was told “not to touch there” inevitably inviting a physical (disobedient) response, while in another viewers found themselves surrounded by an orchestrated cacophany of voices encouraging them to “take a seat”. Once seated, the viewer was caressed by a projected hand accompanied by 3d audio of kissing. The nature of 3d audio is such that the viewer really ‘felt’ the audio (ie. kissing) as an apparently first hand experience, thus creating an audio trompe l’oeil, an illusion of a parallel reality.
The work became a critique of the role of the viewer, and his/her expectations within an ‘interactive’ context, whilst also examining the relationship between public and private, observer and observed; the privacy of the audio experience creating an individual world within the shared gallery space.
Cajoling instructions, sounds and ephemeral video projections combined to seduce the viewer in an experience where the listener was both hunter and hunted and could never quite gain ‘control’.
AudioZone filled the gallery with a rich, reverberent installation for the inside of the head.
AudioZone was subsequently shown in 1996 in Command, Shift, CTRL, NAME Gallery, Chicago and Cyburban Fantasies, Croydon Clocktower.