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Hiaz.YonViselr1.1 - 05 Jul 2005 - 13:17 - TWikiGuesttopic end

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Disturbance, Audition, and the Betrayal of Geometry

by Yon Visell

Knowledge of the world is conveyed to us by diverse signals impacting our senses. While our auditory system is adapted to linear waves travelling in air, our ears are capable of recording the results of a wider class of propagating displacements, which may be conveyed by any physical or unphysical laws, in any spaces we can imagine, provided they can be translated into perceivable vibrations. Conversely, such sensations carry information about the spaces, forms, and dynamics that have left their imprint upon the signals passing through them. This notion has been at the center of applications and of fundamental questions in geometry, concerning the degree to which the shape of a space is encoded in such signals -- whether one can, for example, "hear the shape of a drum".

The experiential activity it suggests is the auditory display of diverse spaces, based on latent properties of signals passing through them. Technology permits to present the physics and geometry of the familiar world, or of imaginary worlds, using sound. The basic example is artificial reverberation, through which we listen to the qualities of waves passing through spaces of one, two, or three dimensions, with different shapes, topologies, and properties. But technological acoustics need no longer be acoustics at all. It may be the sound of disturbances propagating by means of diffusion, gravitational radiation, or any similar process. Various novel acoustic phenomena follow: waves on quantum spaces, for example, or solitons -- coherent spacetime grains of sound. The real and virtual physical systems that are represented range in scale from the microscopic to the cosmic. In each extreme, we are dealing with technologies for presenting the radically insensable.

-- HiazHhzz - 29 Jun 2004
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