Divided Spaces

Varoutsos ( Georgios Varoutsos )
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[ private ] 
This research project focused on storytelling from interviews and BBC Northern Ireland archival material with the combination of various recording methods to create an audio immersive installation. In specific, it is to highlight the connectivity of spaces and experiences through sound to highlight past, present, and future relations with the Peace Wall Belfast. The foundation of the project rested on the spatial audio concept of ambisonics to have the piece distributed for different listening environments.

The research reflects on the experiences with Peace Walls and history of the ‘Troubles’, this undoubtedly provokes sensitivity towards sharing experiences and therefore was hard to obtain numerous participants. Consequently, this shaped the focus from the gathered interviews and archival material to maintain an anonymous and neutral viewpoint. This means that there are no names, occupations, religious, political, or background of an individual exposed throughout any of the audio. There is neither any personal intention to promote either community from the Falls or Shankill.

The project composition and workflow instilled new methods of using ambisonics audio for creating separated sonic fields. Ambisonics allows for the capturing of multiple sonic fields (360° audio) and with SSA Plugins (Decoder and Panner) provide an ability to achieve a new effect by repurposing these sound fields into 90° positions and creating additional mixed 360° sound fields within the installation. This decoding and panning method led to an immersive space having capabilities of experiencing sonic division, as if the listener(s) took the position of the Peace Wall. Within the piece, sometimes the listener is exposed to either side of the wall, both of sides of the wall together, and even a mixture of separated/joined spaces.

Combining an array of audio material (ambisonics, stereo, mono sources), into a multi-layered and segmental sonic field shifted the original concepts from an audio piece into an installation. The ability to take traditional concepts of ambisonics and use it in forms that can compress several large physical areas into an audio immersive installation assisted in the idea of simultaneously listening to both sides of the wall. The installation encourages for a listener(s) to walk through, around, and be virtually present between the two sides. It also supports the ability to embody the perceptions to and from the Peace Wall. This results in inspiring listener mobility to cross into either of the auditory spaces with their own free choice and therefore generates a unique sonic experience for that listener(s).

Divided Spaces by Georgios Varoutsos is an audio immersive piece focusing on the Peace Wall between the Falls and Shankill road in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Representing connectivity of spaces and experiences through sound to highlight Past, Present, and Future relations with the Peace Wall(s). It hosts an immersive sonic round-table discussion on controversial issues concerned with the history of the ‘Troubles’ and the status of Peace Wall(s) around the country.

The piece compresses the large surface areas surrounding the Peace Wall into a room listening experience. Demonstrating the separation and isolation from either side’s community spaces. 
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