The Next Conversation: “Music and Mixed Reality”


Event Date: Tuesday, March 20, from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. Admission is free. Tell your friends.

Location: Vermillion, an art gallery, bar, and neighborhood gathering place at 1508 11th Ave, Seattle

The Summary

In conjunction with the ongoing 9e2 project, we’re continuing our conversation about art and new technologies. In the last conversation, we looked at fundamental questions of synthetic realities. This month we’re going deeper into music as an important element of any immersive realities. Read on below for details.

The Guests (see guest bios below)

Evie Powell, game designer; president, Verge of Brilliance

Arami walker, artist, musician

Aliysha Kaija, artist, musician

Andrew Luck, multimedia producer, sound designer, and researcher

The Story

This time we’re focusing on the sound elements and more specifically, the music, in mixed reality, in immersive technologies. At first glance, it seems that visual elements are at the core of any immersion, whether in virtual reality, 360 degree video, or in augmented reality. But it may be that sound and music hold the key to a powerful experience in an immersion.

I remember back in the very first days of video teleconferencing participating in a transcontinental conference, and thinking how the sound, which was crystal clear, made the person on the screen feel as though they were right there in front of us. The video, not so much. Of course video has gone through revolutionary shifts since then, but there is still something about a well-made, and well-placed, sound in creating another reality, in producing a sense of immersion.

That sound placement can be key; it’s the world of spatial audio, where stereo recording gives way to binaural audio such that sounds appear to be coming from specific directions, and then, more recently, to 3D audio, or ambisonics, where sound changes to reflect the user’s movement through a virtual space.

But this is just sound. How does music, as a structured and emotive set of sounds, play into the creation of immersive realities? If immersive technologies are to be a way of telling stories, and possibly critical stories, how is music part of that storytelling? Do the new technologies, especially 3D audio, allow for the creation of what may effectively be a new form of music production? Can the interactive potentials of mixed reality allow for a music that is fluid, that will never be heard more than once in the same way?

Come talk about it.

The Guests in Detail

Evie Powell graduated from University of North Carolina at Charlotte with her Ph.D in Computer Science. Her research interests varied to include socially pervasive game experiences and context aware gaming using mobile technologies. In school, her primary research project was a social networking game called “Snag’em,” which is designed to teach valuable networking skills and increase the sense of community among game players. Dr. Powell uses pervasive game design principles and popular social game design strategies to create an experience that increases sense of community, specifically within the computing community, with the end goal of positively impacting student retention and increase student success within computing.

Arami walker is a multidimensional artist who intends to use the power of media, performance arts, and technology to catalyze a shift in consciousness throughout the world. Inspired by language learning, poetry, music and immersive reality building, she hopes to use traditional and non- traditional media to promote a healthier way to share stories.

From her statement: “Arami walker is tired of making her life path sound more academic and digestible.

I sing truth, to heal the masses, and to learn how to love myself.

My Life started when I told my Dad, I want to be an artist.”

Aliysha Kaija centers herself in her life purpose of “Be the Light.” She has toured the world making music and touches the soul of everyone she meets. As a creator, teacher and healer, she uses touch and sound healing to help people reach deeper levels of self, empathy and human experience.

Andrew Luck is a computer musician, hacker, instructor, and community organizer living in Seattle, Washington. He was born in the rural Appalachian mountains of North Carolina, and music, videos games, and television fueled a burning curiosity for other cultures. Sharing media’s potential for learning and expression is a driving force to his community building and expression. At Appalachian State University, Andrew studied media literacy and explored the balance of simulacra in non-fiction video. It was at this time Andrew began creating computer music and DJing acousmatic dance music. Multimedia production has enabled him to promote and produce music and community events since 2000.

Between 2009 and 2014 Andrew joined forces with Adam Houghton to form the musical duo SPLATINUM. In 2014 Andrew ventured back into education and research. After a decade of work in industry on products and events for music and entertainment, research presented a unique and exciting growth opportunity. Simultaneously, Andrew discovered the second wave of virtual reality, and in his work, observed young students creating music with technology at an invigorating pace. Expressing musical ideas and building songs was expedited with technology and new musical interfaces. This inspired a pivot into creating musical worlds and interfaces in VR, a promising new computing platform, that will be highly accessible.

Andrew found a way into hackathons, as a sound designer and musician. Currently, he is an avid participant in the Seattle VR community, attending and competing in hackathons regularly. He has won four awards in Seattle VR Hackathons since 2016. Actively building and creating tools that empower people to improvise musical interactions in immersive environments is Andrew’s current mission.


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