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eMuse (TM) by Jeff Talman


Sound and Technology from the Artist's Perspective



Sound Sites!

The Portal. Photo copyright (c) Dickinson Prentiss

Art with a capital A. No reason not. But we're hooked to Technology too, likewise with a capital T. That's AT and that would be this eMuse - where AT on the web is where, I'm sayin'. Let's ease-off the brain drill. Go for a two-tone '56 Thunderbird, convertible of course, cruise jukin' down the open road. The information highway's the horse. Let's see where those crazy cats are AT, where every low down beat is sweet, yeah dadd-i-o dig each jivin', jumpin' scene. So sit back sisters, let it GO, well-tanned and Raybanned, jazz up the radio, light a Kool for me Kookie (you can keep the comb). Drive like there's no tomorrow, cause it's happenin' today...

Now, before the mirror's adjusted, the keys cranked, the engine gunned: here comes a disclaimer for this bunch of sites, most of which the audio I have not heard: any of these sites audio-wise can truly and literally suck... and I could care less. Why? Because often you MUST be in the actual physical location of a new technology or installation to fully GET it. Beyond that, even if the actual product throttles the wallaby, is of no matter. Why? Because these sites are full of concept. Pure concept buys the lot, even if the product is puddley the idea may be fab-magged, chromed and HEAVY... the object of desire.

But to get back to brain drills, this guy up in Boston probably knows how to use one. His name is Pompei and his ideas are cataclysmic. Over at the MediaLab at MIT they have a lot of interesting stuff cooking, worth looking into further. But F. Joseph Pompei's work, if it works - and by responsible accounts it does, is simply a new world launching before us.

Imagine a spotlight on the stage. Imagine the surrounding black. The spotlight is purely focused. Only a tiny circle of light is radiant in an enormous space. In the murky blacksand low-level grays of the theatre, your undivided attention is riveted to the spotlight's subject. The spotlight moves and your attention moves. The spotlight sweeps and you follow the sweep. The spotlight narrows and you discern the slightest upturn in expression on an actor's face. Now imagine that instead of light we are talking about sound.

Actually you don't need to imagine it. Pompei seemingly has done it with The Audio Spotlight As a sound user myself I am beyond the intrigued stage, I am salivating. But backing up... about Pompei. His credentials are impeccable: work with Bose at a tender age (the youngest ever at 16), an undergrad degree from Rennselaer Polytechnic Institute, on to a masters in 3-D audio at Northwestern, and thence to MIT for the holy grail doctorate (pending, though if this idea flies, he should be conferring degrees). The BBC has covered him, various list serves have covered him, he reportedly sold out his paper on this technology given at an AES convention, even well-toothed Prince Andrew has covered him (no kidding, a very smiling .jpg is available at the site - but over .5 MB - Jeez F. Joseph, I want something a LITTLE more interesting for THAT many MB's... especially when you're dealing with 'spotlights').

I ramble. GO. LOOK. By 'encasing' audio program material in high intensity ultrasonic beams, Pompei blocks non-linear delivery of the program material until it has struck and reflected from a surface. Think multiple moving Audio Spotlights programmed with or without other events such as actors, dancers, film, whatever. It has the potential to change theatre, dance, amplified performance, sonic art installations, home theatre, planetariums and scads of other art/entertainment/industry sound applications and it could greatly influence those not yet invented. Think of how the visual spotlight defines object/subject generally on stage. Now think of bouncing audio sources directly off any wall or object in a space with free motion of source as a projectable feature - electrifying!

The Audio Spotlight:


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Copyright © 11 March 2000 Jeff Talman, Saratoga Springs, NY, USA


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