Bowers & Wilkins has posted a blog article that details the role of their technology in “Vocal Vibrations”. The immersive installation featuring music by composer Tod Machover and design by Neri Oxman opened on March 27th at Le Laboratoire in Paris. The project examines the relationship between human physiology and the resonant vibrations of voice.
Vocal Vibrations uses complex technology to layer audio, physical and other stimuli on top of visitors’ voices; audio, lighting and tactile cues will be triggered by sensors in specially designed, hand-held orbs, while measurements are taken for such responses as heart rate, breathing and galvanic skin response. Key to the experience are the latest 683 and 686 loudspeakers, PV1D subwoofers and P7 headphones all supplied by renowned British speaker brand Bowers & Wilkins.
Machover said of the impact of these: “Bowers & Wilkins loudspeakers and headphones sound absolutely amazing in these spaces and really ‘make’ the experience.”
Vocal Vibrations in association with Bowers & Wilkins runs 28 March-29 September (private view 27 March), Le Laboratoire, 4 rue du Bouloi, 75001, Paris.
David Staples’ article in the German periodical Bühnentechnische Rundschau has now appeared in an English translation. Staples is Managing Director of Theatre Projects, Ltd. the world’s most prominent firm for designing performing arts centers.
Staples writes: “Machover has created a number of operas incorporating new technologies, Valis premiered at the Pompidou Centre in Paris in 1987. The Brain Opera premiered at New York’s Lincoln Center Festival and his most recent opera Skelig is based on a very successful children’s novel and adventure story. But Death and the Powers takes his explorations further than anything he, or probably anyone else has attempted in the world of opera.”
The article goes on to describe in some technical detail the principles of “disembodied performance”, the “operabots” and ambisonic system developed for Death and the Powers. “But, does all this technology produce a good opera or is it simply an academic exercise to test the bounds of computing power? Death and the Powers succeeds at both,” Staples concludes.
Read the full text of the article and let us know what you think.
Ground-breaking audio technologies play a crucial role in Death and the Powers, as we learn in this excellent article posted by Duran Audio. The writer interviewed Theatre Sound Designer and Consultant Chris Full, who has been working closely with composer Tod Machover and his M.I.T. Media Lab team on the project. “Tod and I first collaborated on Skellig (the Opera) at The Sage Gateshead which combined a classic operatic orchestra with synthesised instruments and real world sample textures using a mixture of traditional sound re-enforcement and Ambisonic encoding to immerse the audience in an enveloping sound scape,” Full says. “For ‘Death and the Powers’ our goal was to build on what we achieved on Skellig by increasing the versatility of the sound environment and adding a layer of real-time manipulation of the sound sources and effects.”
“I heard a demonstration of WFS [Wave Field Synthesis] a few years ago and immediately thought of how amazing this technology would be in reproducing an immersive audio environment – the whole audience area is the sweet spot!”. The problem was that at that time there wasn’t any way to drive the DSP in order to dynamically position and control sources in the soundfield.” The article goes on to describe how Full and the M.I.T. Media Lab team met these challenges to create “the world’s first WFS system specifically designed for theatrical, cinema, entertainment and theme park applications.”
Duran Audio – Death and the Powers Monaco: MIT teams up with AXYS for a Royal Premiere in Monaco
Dive into the sound engineering behind Death and the Powers in this article from Bowers & Wilkins’ blog site: The Future of Surround Sound at MIT. MIT student Ben Bloomberg explains the audio technology that was developed for the 3D surround sound system that delivers an intense sonic experience for the audience.