AES New York 2007 Sunday, October 7, 11:30 am — 12:30 pm
LUNCHTIME KEYNOTE: BARRY BLESSER
Introduction by Alex Case
The Art of Space: Audio Engineers as Aural Architects
Regardless of their technical focus, audio and sound engineers also function as aural architects who shape a listener’s experience of the environment. Space and sound are inexorably linked because space changes our experience of sound, and sound changes our experience of space.
Aural architecture has its own language, which includes at least five dimensions of spatiality: aesthetic, symbolic, musical, navigational, and social. The language of spatiality exists in parallel with the language of physical acoustic and perceptual psychology. In addition, the experience of aural space need not be consistent with visual space.
While engineers try to answer questions using technical methods and tools, those answers depend on first having identified the relevant questions and assumptions. For example, although subjective preferences and perceptual experiences of spatial acoustics can sometimes be measured using scientific methods, the life style of sensory subcultures determines the cognitive and perceptual strategy of listeners, which is neither stable nor consistent. In any given cultural context, some spatiality dimensions may dominate others. This lack of consistency forces a sound engineer to also be a sonic artist and an aural architect.
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