Heritage Acoustics - Acoustic Atlas

This project aims to advance world acoustical awareness through a web-audio auralisation platform that will be a global site of ‘listening’. It will combine sound art, composition, heritage acoustics and environmental conservation in a unique and important way.

Acoustic Atlas is a virtual acoustic map, for the cultivation of the capacity to listen to and connect with, remote heritage sites. Acoustic Atlas invites people to sing and emit sound into virtual acoustic environments and experience how their voices, as human sonar signals, reveal the hidden interiors, forms and textures of these heritage sites. Such listening experience allows for a phenomenological connection with the remote site, which becomes particularly relevant for the preservation of heritage sites and for sonic exploration.

Acoustics provide important real-time spatial information about the environment: sound cues such as perceived loudness, spatial position, reverberation and perceived distance, are intuitively interpreted by humans to make sense of the size and shape of their environment. The sonic component of the virtual reconstruction of a site is termed ‘auralisation’ which means rendering a space audible. For example, a person recorded singing in an anechoic chamber (an acoustically dry space, with no sound reflections), can be made to sound as though they were singing in a large cathedral, or a cave or any given acoustic space for which the data is available. Examples of uses of auralisations include simulations of ancient and historic sites, to support archaeological, architectural, anthropological and historical research.

To date, however, while there are vast amounts of digital visual data such as maps, 3D models, and photographs of heritage sites, the number of available and accessible auralisations is sparse. Browse Google Earth to discover spectacular visual details anywhere on this planet. Try to listen to them and it is astonishingly quiet.

Practical info for the experience: On the next page (Listen Here), please be sure to wear headphones and enable your device microphone input. Also note that this site so far has been tested only for Chrome and Firefox on a desktop.

If you would like to give feedback or contribute your photography/impulse response recordings/field recordings/sound art please get in touch.