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Exhibition
19.04.03.06.2024

What does the future look like on the Freilagerplatz? The project «Sonic Imaginations – When we Grow Old» presents the site-specific lecture performance by Martin Rumori and Ludwig Zeller as a binaural audio-walk on the Freilager-Platz in Basel. Borrow a listening-kit from HEK during our regular opening hours from April 20th to June 3rd to experience the speculative audio-walk.

Costs:
free

Switzerland will undergo a significant demographic ageing process over the next 50 years. According to projections by the Federal Statistical Office, one in four people will be over 65 by then. Martin Rumori and Ludwig Zeller, researchers at the Institute of Digital Communication Environments at the HGK Basel, explore future scenarios that deal with demographic change in the project «Sonic Imaginations – When We Grow Old» in the form of a site-specific lecture performance that can be experienced as a binaural audio-walk of the Freilager-Platz in Basel.

Thanks to medical breakthroughs and technical aids, will people in 2070 be mobile and actively involved in shaping Swiss society at a much older age than today? Will they still be part of the working population? How much human labor will still be needed if the use of artificial intelligence and machines is cheaper, and who will pull the strings in such an economy? How will society develop if 'the young' are too few to revolutionize the traditional with new ideas? How has the climate been dealt with?

The audience is invited to explore fascinating and challenging future scenarios which offer both controversial and inspiring possibilities. Using multi-layered soundscapes and subtle humor, the audio drama underscores the dynamics of change and encourages reflection on our present and future.

From April 20th until June 3rd, you can experience «When We Grow Old» borrowing a listening-kit from the HEK reception during regular opening hours. Please bring an ID with you as a security deposit for the listening-kit.

Context:

The digitisation of media enables novel ways to create spatial experiences through sound. The widespread use of headphones with smartphones brings a range of technologies from sound and music processing, academic research, and the gaming industry, such as Ambisonics, binaural techniques, and head tracking, not only into private but also public spaces. In the SNF Spark research project «Sonic Imagination», Ludwig Zeller and Martin Rumori investigated the hypothesis that virtual sound sources in media-extended listening environments are particularly suitable for triggering and controlling imaginations in people's inner perception. Central to this was binaural listening to imaginary scenes at the recording location (quasi "in-situ"), as sound, as an explicitly non-visual medium, can promote the emergence of visual concepts. The researchers explored to what extent these media aesthetic and media technological phenomena can be applied in art and design research. As part of the SNF Agora project, a broader audience is now shown how this sound-induced imagination works technically and aesthetically, thereby creating a forum for a critical, public discussion of the research results. For this purpose, Martin Rumori and Ludwig Zeller, in collaboration with HEK (House of Electronic Arts), present the site-specific lecture performance «When We Grow Old» as a binaural audio-walk on the Freilager-Platz in Basel. For the project, impulse response measurements in Ambisonics format were created on the Freilager-Platz to transfer speculative scenarios as an auditory mixed reality to the square. Martin Rumori and Ludwig Zeller appear as speculative researchers in the sense of a lecture performance and confront the audience with the affective impact that auditory atmospheres can have on people.

«When We Grow Old» was funded by SNF Agora and builds on the research results of the SNF Spark research project «Sonic Imagination,» which was carried out from 2020-2021 under the direction of Ludwig Zeller at the Institute Digital Communication Environments at HGK Basel. Equipped with headphones, a head tracker and a smartphone, the audience listens to the researchers discussing these questions in a dialog at the Freilager-Platz in Basel. Thanks to acoustic simulation techniques, which Ludwig Zeller and Martin Rumori explored aesthetically in their SNSF-funded research project, the speculative reflections can be experienced in an astonishingly spatial and deceptively real way as an aurally augmented reality.

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In cooperation: When We Grow Old» was funded by SNF Agora and builds on the research results of the SNF Spark research project «Sonic Imagination,» which was carried out from 2020-2021 under the direction of Ludwig Zeller at the Institute Digital Communication Environments at HGK Basel.