Dynamic Soundscapes

Mytreyi Chandrasekhar Metta, Liyah George, and Shraddha Jain (A. Alfred Taubman College of Architecture + Urban Planning), Sophia Janevic (School of Music, Theatre & Dance)

In the physical world, the classical stage is a platform of vibrant movement and interpersonal connection, broadcast onto a static audience who may only applaud at prescribed intervals. Our project proposal intended to challenge this performer-audience hierarchy within the virtual realm and investigate how the dissolution of the stage/seating barrier creates an autonomous audience experience transcending the mere “spectator.”

We envisioned a space in which audience members are able to move freely around the stage, interact through a chat feature, and react to the music as it occurs without fear of “interrupting” the performance—all giving them authority over their experience. As we began to conceptualize this free space, we realized that the virtual realm renders the idea of a singular stage obsolete, and our project goals broadened from challenging the concert hall hierarchy to challenging the very notion of the stage itself. We thus imagined a new space composed of multiple diverse and immersive stages, each offering a unique presentation of the same musical performance. Our final product showcases six stages (“nodes”) that meld music and architecture through spatialization and distortion of sound. Audience members design their own listening experience by exploring these nodes at their leisure.

As our team worked remotely from our homes, we kept returning to the idea of how in isolation, the domestic space has transformed into a performance space. We asked, in the age of quarantine, has the home become a theatre? To question this in our work, we incorporated familiar objects and sounds (mirrors, whispers, etc.) within our nodes, which doubled as anchors within an otherwise unfamiliar virtual space.

Our video depicts one of the many paths an audience member might take on their unique journey through the nodes. The performance featured is “She-e-e-e-e” by SMTD student Megan Rohrer, performed with her group Converge Quartet.