Liberation in the intermediate state through hearing
BARDO is an artistic research residency in the field of spatial sound that i lead at Spatial Sound Institute (formerly 4D Sound) in Budapest (Hungary) for the creation of an immersive piece at the intersection of spatial sound, architecture, and digital arts, whose one of its particularities is the technical study and reproduction of inner sound properties of spaces dedicated to ritual, meditative or spiritual practices, or similar experiences. It involves a development step on the use of a multi-channel convolution reverb to simulate virtual sound spaces, its integration in the composition of the piece, and in parallel the record of three-dimensional sound imprint in specific locations, which will feed this process.
The project takes its inspiration from the eponymous Tibetan word which means « interval » and may designate existential periods to which one can assign bounds. It is the central subject of the Tibetan Book of the Dead, where the subtitle «liberation in the intermediate state through hearing » appears . If at first it describes the passage between death and rebirth in a future life, dream, meditation, life are also bardo, journey of a spirit that has no beginning nor end. By extension, some says Bardo are spaces of potential creativity and liberation, because they imprint breaks within daily routines and patterns. In these momentary interstices of freedom, the perception of something new and awake may suddenly arise.
To explain the background of the project, it is necessary to address, in addition to this literary inspiration, two concepts that link physical experience of space and sound.
First of all the principle of Aural architecture. It refers to the property of a space that can be apprehended by listening. The perception of the nature of a place is closely linked to the conjugation of the spatial perception of its geometry and sound signature. The aural architecture is that aspect of space that produces an emotional response, behavioral in its inhabitants, to which the sound signature also contributes. A space can produce a feeling of intimacy, anxiety, isolation, warmth, or a mystical feeling in the sense of spirituality. Favored by the sound context of the space directly generated by the architectural configuration of a place (form, matter), such feelings appear in parallel with those caused by the visual dimension. Certain places by the will of the designers concentrate a direction that will combine all the attributes, according to the defined role of the place. For instance, for centuries, humanity has created and dedicated spaces specific to spiritual and ritual practices. It can be a place of worship (temple, church etc.), places of retreat, or any other space, where the architect has staged the attributes that he believes can contribute to the inner experience. Here, the contribution of the acoustic character of space, intimately linked to the architectural configuration of space, to this experience is essential.
It’s the philosopher Michel Foucault who summarizes more generally in 1967 in the context of the conference « other spaces » the principles that are operating in such space, by the idea of heterotopia that he defined as a physical location of utopia. Born from questions about the use of space by concrete places conceived as invertors of norms, this approach also explains my focus in certain spaces in that project, and to understand the aesthetic mechanisms that are in function there. For example, the sixth principle evoked by Foucault describes the functional character of heterotopia. According to the philosopher, they are spaces of illusion that denounce real space, creating the ideal conditions to develop imaginary, where the extraordinary becomes the norm.
Heterotopia by nature thus causes a shift of the place from its immediate environment, physical and social, and thus constitutes a space where narration by the imagination is favored, and is conducive to a form of inner experience (id est spirituality). By entering this place, the visitor makes a break with its normal life and is immersed in a new dimension as well as inside a new material, that define the immersive space.
By seeking to create the extraordinary, even surreal, in the design of buildings of this type, architects, conscious or not, stage the break of the daily and seek to cause an inexpressible experience of space. Here is the link with the initial inspiration of the philosophical project on the intermediate states of consciousness, Bardo, which are extensions of the heterotopia artifacts and can more easily be born in this type of place.
Therefore, in addition to the creative dimension, this research project is also an opportunity to explore furthermore the langage & aesthetic of immersive art through philosophical and sociological analysis.
The research & objective
As for the artistic purpose behind this conceptual approach, it is is to create an immersive experience that would have somehow the property of the dramatic experience evoked in the book.
Based on these main concepts, the purpose of this residency is to lead an artistic research to design a new piece that has, comparatively to my other pieces, new foundations. Instead of working around the idea of sound positioning, motion, and spatial processing, in Bardo, my focus is to be able to create a virtual and imaginary acoustic space (within real space) with a certain range of live editable parameters, that will welcome the journey of sound material. It’s quite a different paradigm in sound spatialization. That will improve the spectrum of tool for the composing task, either in real time or in scoring (which could also be en entire subject by itself) and therefore enhance his language of immersive expression.
There are three main task in this project.
1.First part is the integration of the algorithm, the design of the tool and interface that would later be used. Actually this whole section refers as the design of performance architecture. It related to the software design itself, but also how the immersive space is thought and organized for the piece, which connects to that global architecture. That’s a part that could only be done at 4Dsound as it requires to test and validate choices on site.
I have came up with the idea to subdvise 4Dsound sonic space into 5 virtual universes, named simply SPACE #, each one being one Impulse located and reproduced into the physical world by a specific routing between each speakers.
This idea will lead to write music in term of spatial representation, in opposition of the usual idea when it comes to multi channel composition, of motions and energy. Both of these parameters become secondary, and are included in a more general perception of the spatial sound, therefore could be seen as consequences of the use of the space. This direction suits actually better to the way i work in general in immersive contexte, in which my concern about the energy spread is essential.
Because the algorithm of 4Dsound also allows the motion of each universe in the virtual 4D engine, it will finally combine the possibility of virtualize acoustic spaces AND their displacement on the fly. As i m using the ircam spat object spat5.converb~ to convolute the IR , there will be applied on each universe the possibility of real time filtering using controlers.
- Space #1, GRAND relies one large building IR
- Space #2, INTIMATE #1 relies one an intermediate size with medium intimate acoustic properties IR
- Space #3,INTIMATE #2 relies one an intermediate size with intimate acoustic properties IR
- Space #4, GROUND will use a specific IR for the ground representation
- Space #5, CEILING will use a specific IR for the ceiling representation
2.Second is the record of multichannel Impulse Response.
In my, there will be plenty of potential incredible sacred spaces to visit. For obvious reasons, it is quite challenging to visit all of them. I have collected a list of possible spaces, and meanwhile visiting them, i still enjoy the view of that collection
3.Third, is the composition of music accordingly to the performing architecture.
This step will be the last one to be processed. I will work from my new studio in Paris, probably later in 2019.