THE WAVE - 32 Channel Immersive Sound Performance


A culminating performance at Disjecta gallery for the Summer 2019 PCC Spatial Audio Residency. Artists composed and performed on Unity Gain -- a High Density Loudspeaker Array that features 32 Meyer MM-4XP speakers, assembled by Jesse Mejia and owned by PCC Cascade- Unity Gain is one of three HDLAs on the West Coast and currently the only HDLA in the nation at an open access institution of higher education.

My work utilized multi-timbral synthesis, binaural field recordings, psychoacoustic techniques and layered samples- spatialized in MaxMSP with SPAT from IRCAM fr. My intent for the work was to recreate the sonic experience of being subject to Portland Police riot control at a political protest. Binaural recordings from Tim Kahn of the 2017 inaugural protests provided real recordings both of crowd noise, weaponized loudspeakers, alarms, tear gas, flash grenades, and riot control "kettling". Detonations and sounds that occur at a deafening level were sent through an "ear damage" simulation effect programmed in Max/MSP dampening the overall sound, ducking volume, and introducing a tinnitus-like ringing- modeling the physical and psycho-acoustic effects of weaponized sounds. Using SPAT and careful reverberation programming a virtual outdoor space was simulated letting dry samples rattle around in the same air as the field recordings. The rarely dry sound of a roving helicopter comes and goes synthesized with assistance from this paper: in order to let the reverberation of chopper blades rattle in the same virtual space.

Accompanying the realistic sonic environment was ambient melodic work composed with a Hammond Romance organ, DX7 keyboard, Reel-to-Reel tape, and various hardware effect units, replayed live through two granular samplers that allowed me to "conduct" the music forward or backward in the arrangement, intensity, and virtual placement from a MIDI controller.

While creative and artistic in nature the piece aims to bring awareness to the crowd dispersal tactics that the Portland Police legally use in order to foster discussion over weaponization of sound and use of public tax dollars.

An adapted version of the sound piece for binaural home listening is available here-

CW---This piece contains explosions, realistic sounds of weaponry and physical aggression, and brief simulated tinnitus. Those with combat experience or PTSD may find the sounds unsettling.

Listening suggestion-

  • Download the file via the link in lossless format (pay what you want)

  • Use headphones

  • Turn the volume up to a comfortable level where you can hear those closest to you in the crowd - the mix is intentionally quiet to preserve the sonic illusion.