Peter Batchelor: composer, sound designer

GRIDs

 

GRIDs is a series of sound sculptures involving geometric arrays of many (in some cases hundreds of) loudspeakers. These permit, by virtue of being both massively and geometrically multichannel, the generation of extremely intricate spatial sound environments that encourage ambulatory investigation and scrutiny. The works emerge directly from an acousmatic compositional aesthetic, encompassing spectrally rich soundworlds between the mimetic and the musical; as installations, however, they offer dramatically different experiences from those of acousmatic music encountered in the concert hall. Each accommodates a different way of experiencing multichannel space, in terms of both the physical arrangement/orientation of its loudspeakers (exploring sculptural surface vs interior, sonic projection vs immersion) and its relationship with the surrounding environment. The bracketed alternative titles refer to the intended way in which the listener will experience the presentation of multichannel sound space in each work.

[Through]: Studies on Canvas (2004) presents a flat-panel array of loudspeakers behind a blank canvas. The work is designed to be viewed like a conventional painting, with the speaker-space ‘framed’ by the boundaries of the canvas, and presents 'pictures' in sound which listeners are encouraged to explore—standing back to reveal the entire image, looking more closely to experience the inner detail.

[Above]: Cascade (2018) also presents a flat-panel array of loudspeakers, this time suspended above the listener. In a manner comparable to James Turrell’s skyspace series, in which simple apertures in the ceilings of otherwise bare spaces open to the sky above, it is conceived to operate as a portal to an external (fictional) sonic ‘reality’.

[Beyond]: DOME (2012) and Beyond (2014) comprise a series of geodesic dome/sphere structures with speakers placed in the vertices between the triangular panels of each. Listeners lie within these structures, experiencing sound circumferencially and distally—always outwards/surrounding. The domes are designed to be unenclosed and thus acoustically transparent, enabling a listener within to experience the soundscape beyond the playing loudspeakers (ideally a park or other outdoor public space) as an extension of that presented by the constructed speaker-space itself; indeed, sounds from loudspeakers may be indistinguishable from those coming from beyond. Thus, while the dome provides a sense of enclosure and safety, it is paradoxically designed to encourage a much wider awareness of space (and place), affording the listener an experience akin to Mallarmé’s notion of ‘transparent prolongation’: a listening-through of the constructed land(sound)scape into the already-there.

[Within]: CLUSTER (expected 2020 (prototype 2011)) present the grid in three dimensions (e.g. 4x4x4) as a cuboid-shaped suspended walk-through array, and thus departs from the surface-based configuration of the other setups. As such, the listener is enveloped by the sound, but can navigate it, investigating zones of activity along with individual speakers as point sources.

[Between]: Contraption (expected 2019) involves five cyclindrical columns, each containing 80 speakers. Sounds travel along, around and between these columns such that detailed, playful ‘mechanical’ generation/propagation of acousmatic sound materials occurs within and across cylinders.

[Around]: Currents (expected 2020) presents a globe-like spherical arrangement of 162 speakers radiating sound outwards. Spatialisation is based on atmospheric data derived from internet services; sounds therefore travel across the surface of the sphere.

 

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RESEARCH CONCERNS

Through these works, GRIDs addresses a number of long-standing research aims:

 

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RELATED SCHOLARLY ACTIVITY

Batchelor, P. (2007) Really Hearing the Thing: An Investigation of the Creative Possibilities of Trompe L'Oreille and the Fabrication of Aural Landscapes. EMS Proceedings 2007.

Batchelor, P. 2013. The construction of landscape in GRIDs: acousmatic compositional strategies applied to multichannel installations. Paper presented at From Type to TypeDef, University of Sheffield.

Batchelor, P. 2014. Evaluating Acousmatic Compositional Strategies within Public Sound Art. Paper presented at the 2014 Electronic Music Studies Network Conference, Berlin.

Batchelor, P. 2015. Acousmatic Approaches to the Construction of Image and Space in Sound Art. Organised Sound, 20(2), pp.148-159.

Batchelor, P. 2015. From Spaces to Places: multichannel acousmatic music outside the concert hall. Paper presented at BEAST FEaST 2015, University of Birmingham, Birmingham.

Batchelor, P. 2015. a view to somewhere in space: multichannel acousmatic music outside the concert hall. Keynote talk presented at VOLUME Sound & Spatiality Festival, Sibelius Academy, Helsinki.

Batchelor, P. 2017. Through the Looking Glass: Reflectivity vs Transparency; and the embedding of Place through Sound. Paper presented at ARCTIC SOUND & NATURE Conference 2017, University of Lapland, Rovaniemi.

Batchelor, P. 2018. Through the Looking Glass: Reflectivity vs Transparency; and the embedding of Place through Sound. Ed. Jaana Erkkilä-Hill & Jari Rinne. Arctic Sound and Nature: Perspectives on Vibrating Worlds. University of Lapland