Photos by Oscar Björk
Echo of our time
A project by Oscar Björk
Resonance from our surroundings is something we experience daily but very rarely gets much focus. It is often in places where we meet powerful reverberation, for example in a church, that it becomes clear that the acoustics are a large part of the overall experience itself. People save photographs, videos and audio recordings of things that happened there and then. 360 degree images are captured or built digitally to enhance an experience of a place through interaction. But the acoustics of places are not preserved in a way that allows people from different parts of the world widely to experience the place by interacting with it themselves.
With modern audio technology, you can capture and preserve the resonance of a place (as Impulse response files, hereinafter referred to as IR files). The file that is created on location can then be used to recreate the acoustics in real time. The main purpose of this project is to start a collection of acoustics / resonance from some of Sweden's places and for the first time to preserve the files in archive. There will be an exhibition about room sound where visitors can interact with several of the acoustics from the captured places, and also, see the places through VR images, which further enhances the overall experience.
This project will in a new way preserve some of Sweden's unique places and also give the opportunity to creatively use them in modern media formats such as music, video, game and VR production.
The project's files will say something about our present time and about the rooms and environments we have around us today. The project's files will be stored in an archive for future generations as a time capsule of our spatial sound.
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PROJECT LEADER - OSCAR BJÖRK:
The idea started with a walk in the nearby castle park with my daughter.
I think I have been inspired by the environment I live in. I live in the alley next to Venngarn's castle, and here in the vicinity there are large mighty natural areas, well-kept buildings and much is
preserved and inspired from the 1600s and 1700s.
As a sound engineer, my job is to capture and preserve audio in a digital format. And to preserve a building or environment in audio format feels very unusual when compared to something visual like a photograph.
I am a guitarist, and i have learned the technique of impulse responses as it has become very common to use for sampling of different guitar/bass cabinets. The files is used in the computer or a digital sampler instead of bringing an actual guitar/bass cabinet to the studio or live show.
With the same method, it is possible to capture the resonance of a room, so-called
"convolution reverb". But it is a slightly different approach because you are not primarily looking to
capture the character of speakers or microphones, but instead the surrounding environment.
It is easy to argue that an impulse response file could be as valuable as a photograph. And it
really feels quite reasonable to preserve a place in an audio format as well as figuratively.
The technology with impulse responses has been used for more than 20 years, but I feel that it has not yet reached its full potential, and no one has, as far as I know, done this type of project as a cultural heritage project before, so the project is pioneer from that aspect.