Room Variations

Room Variations is the result of a sound art project with contributions by sound designers / artists / engineers worldwide. It is inspired by Alvin Lucier’s I Am Sitting In A Room, and was done during the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting lockdowns. The persons involved have wildly different factors but the connecting factor is that all of us have a connection with live theatre & dance.

Keeping with the idea of this lines category here is more of the background story, though at points it might be below lines level in explaining what a convolution reverb is etc. :wink::

…As a result (of the pandemic) many of us were confined to our homes, with live meetings substituted by digital communication mediated mainly by a screen, a camera, a microphone and loudspeakers. For most recordists involved in this project it meant a complete stop of live shows and of designing sound and music for live theatre and dance. Performance was stripped of it’s essence: the fact that it is a meeting between people in the here and now.

For people working with sound in this day and age these rooms we suddenly found ourselves in much more than usual often double as a studio. A studio which also became the only stage available for quite some time.

Connected by the internet an original recording was passed on and re-recorded in 15 different locations in 9 different countries. Each iteration adds something which is less easily shared than the digital recordings: the properties of the spaces we could not otherwise share. Scenophonography, in a sense.

The interest in these spaces comes from twenty years of working in theatre, where being part of a live audience is just as much a part of the experience as what is happening on stage. While we can substitute, but never replace, the happenings on stage with an audiovisual stream, a substitute for being part of an audience is less obvious.

Where Alvin Lucier was exploring the acoustic properties of his singular space or even mainly ‘smoothing out’ his speech as he says, this work is about creating a sum of all our solitary spaces, whatever the outcome might be. The interest in these spaces comes from twenty years of working in theatre, where being part of a live audience is just as much a part of the experience as what is happening on stage. While we can substitute, but never replace, the happenings on stage with an audiovisual stream, a substitute for being part of an audience is less obvious.

The second and third variation take the same original recording on a different trip, staying in the digital realm. Variation II uses a so called ‘convolution reverb’ where an impulse response (an acoustic fingerprint of sorts) of an actual room is used to simulate a space inside the computer. Variation III does the same using an algorithmic reverb, which means there was a mathematical model of a room at the core, without any sampling of a space in the real world.

The project was done out of the love for sound, with the results presented to you for free. Don’t feel obliged to pay a contribution. If for whatever reason you do please be aware that whatever the project makes will be donated to charity, specifically one that benefits artists hit by the consequences of the global health crisis.

2 Likes

Nice. Greetings from the hague

Thanks, greetings back from nearby Rotterdam…