Video of a paper presented at the Tuning Speculation conference in Nov. 2013, organized by Marc Couroux and eldritch Priest.
Four aural-neiric speculations with a very fat head
The impulse behind this paper is a desire to speculatively historicize sound, both in its mechanical and psychoacoustic trajectories. Since the mid-60s, our understanding of sound has been dominated by spectrum analysers that effectively represent a given sound as a combination of frequencies, a representation that is at the heart of both waveform analysis and sound synthesis. Supplementing this (ultimately positivist) rendering of sound, debates have proliferated (under the umbrella of ‘pscyhoacoustics’) over the role of hearing itself in constituting sound: hearing, after all, is a perceptual and sensual event as much as it is a mechanical one. With this in mind the paper considers the wearable artwork FATHEAD—still in a beta version, made with technical assistance from William Brent and Adam Tindale—which basically amounts to a microphone/headset that simulates ways the world would sound if the wearer’s head were 1000 feet wide. The language of thresholds that the piece executes proves a particularly robust site of exploration: the piece supplements the conventional thresholds of audibility (pitch and amplitude) with that of stereo relation.