[ISEA2020] Paper: Oliver Bown, Anthony Rowe & Liam Birtles — Creative audio design for a massively multipoint sound and light system


Keywords: Internet of things, multiplicitous media, sound installation, light installation, creative coding, distributed audio.

In this paper we present and discuss Murmuration by Squidsoup. Murmuration is a massively multipoint sound and light artwork commissioned by the Scottsdale Museum of Contemporary Art, Arizona, comprising 720 individual networked devices, each with RGB LED light and a speaker capable of rendering sampled audio in realtime in an outdoor public environment. It is the first that we know of to use internet of things (IoT) technologies at this scale in the audio domain, and we present a discussion of the sound design considerations that were involved in the creation of the work and that have resulted from our experience of the work’s first manifestation, leading to future goals and design principles that will inform future iterations of our practice.

  • Oliver Bown is senior lecturer and co-director of the Interactive Media Lab at the faculty of Art and Design at the University of New South Wales, in Sydney, Australia. He is a researcher and maker working with creative technologies, with a highly diverse academic background spanning social anthropology, evolutionary and adaptive systems, music informatics and interaction design, with a parallel career in electronic music and digital art spanning over 15 years. He is interested in how artists, designers and musicians can use advanced computing technologies to produce complex creative works. His current active research areas include media multiplicites, musical metacreation, the theories and methodologies of computational creativity, new interfaces for musical expression, and multi-agent models of social creativity.
  • Anthony Rowe, Squidsoup, UK. Anthony has around 20 years experience in digital media art and interaction design; as an artist, designer, teacher and researcher. He was Research Fellow at the Oslo School of Architecture and Design (AHO), Norway until late 2015, and has a PhD on ‘Immersion in Mixed Reality Space’, largely based on the work of Squidsoup. Prior to this he was Associate Professor, Interaction Design at AHO (2009-2012). Anthony founded Squidsoup in 1997. He is also a founder of LUX, an international series of seminars and exhibitions exploring the rich creative intersections of light, space and interaction. In a former existence, Anthony sailed single-handed across the Atlantic (1988).
  • Liam Birtles, Squidsoup, UK and Bournemouth University, UK. Liam is an artist, lecturer and researcher with 20 years experience in creative practice and digital technology. He is currently Senior Lecturer at Bournemouth University. In 1995 Liam gained an MSc in 3D computer graphics from Teesside University and then became a Research Assistant working with designers using low-end virtual reality at Coventry University (UK). Liam joined Squidsoup in 2007. His current research concerns include haptic interaction; the role form plays in collaboration and autonomous agents and physical narrative space.