: Creating Sound Spaces :
When we think of a display or exhibition space, we think of a physical entity, with walls, display cases, structures and other visual elements, but what we hear rather than see can often be equally effective at conveying a message, and when the two work together an extremely powerful environment is created.
Sound can be supportive of display elements or screens, or it can stand alone as an experience in itself. Whatever way it is used, it plays to audiences on both conscious and subconscious levels, from making bold and obvious statements to subtle, barely perceived whispers.
Generally, our sensory inputs are biased towards visual information, so our eyes tell us the dominant message. However our ears don't close, instead they are continually receiving information, both consciously and subconsciously, about where we are and what's going on around us.
This presents all sorts of opportunities to convey information to people on differing levels, and often on multiple levels at the same time. While our brain usually ‘focuses' on one aspect of the information being received, it doesn't stop receiving the other parts of the message, and stores them for later conscious consideration.
Sound is now often used to create an environment which encourages visitor participation, or which sets a receptive mood to increase visitor involvement. An environmental Soundscape can place visitors in any location the designer wishes, to either complement the visual elements, or add an additional element to the overall experience.
Another important attribute of sound is that it can create ‘invisible' boundaries, by delineating a space with sound. However, if so desired, the opposite can also be created, where sound ‘spill' can actually be used to attract visitors into a visual space without physically impeding their passage past.
Louder sounds can encourage animated discussion and interaction, whereas quieter sounds encourage thought and contemplation, and each has their uses to promote audience involvement.
Computer technology and specialized audience sensors can add sound interactions simply based on a visitor's position and movement through a space, the sound changing to provide an immediate ‘feedback' involvement.
One of the most important uses of sound is its ability to ‘bring to life' otherwise inanimate displays or objects. Our visual prioritizing of sensory inputs puts together the two and enables us to imagine the subject alive or moving.
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