The era of great discoveries by Edison and Bell saw the advent of sound recording and transmitting, with the initially one-dimensional sounds of the phonograph and the telephone. The technology itself became quite rapidly extended, already by the end of the 19th century – in its aspiration to adapt more totally to the anatomy of the human body – it was replaced by the two-channel, stereo sound that gained hegemony in the fields of both music recording and playing in the mid 20th century. However, the quest for mimicking the entirety of a sonic environment has not stopped there: binaural recordings (dummy head) and simulations served to reinstate what was perceived as natural in the relation of bodies and nature. The surround systems brought home the possibility of total immersion, where the source of sound is omnidirectional, although with a fix location without the capacity for an agent to move in it around. In the last decade with the spatial turn that favored the ever greater expansion of immersion both in mass entertainment (iMax cinema, VR) and in the elitist arts (environmental, site-specific installations, a new dimension opened up in participation in sonic act.
Tracer is a project developed in cooperation with the Spatial Sound Institute in Budapest. The instrument – HTC Vive with controllers and software – facilitates the management of the 4D Sound System in virtual reality with kinetic inputs. The space, both vertically and horizontally structured (subwoofers on the lower floor, omnidirectional speakers in a grid above) invites musicians and sound designers to think spatially about music making and performance. Tracer replaces and updates the software currently in use and utilizes a 3D interface that is in synch with the physical architecture through a virtual model. With the assistance of the VR controllers the positions of the sounds can be determined on the x,y,z axis with their spatial movement, while the sound’s idiosynchratic form, direction and speed can be added to the path. In fact, Tracer relates to music as TiltBrush to painting.