running away is what i do for a living/i’m sick of it.
i tried to recall the beginning of it all; the reason i chose this topic. i said i had forgotten but i realised i didn’t. it was meaningful to me. it was important. i wanted to deal with it and deal with the problems that had been bugging me for years. but all that i have done to deal with it is to not deal with it. i thought about coursework. i’m glad i did it although i never showed it to him. at the very least in the process, i came to terms with the fact that one day he will leave. i want to believe what i’m doing now is meaningful as well. thus i have decided to treat it as another coursework. i will think of it as art and work on it as design. it will be a diary of a certain sort, a book, a publication, chaptered into my personal experiences relating to communication within a family. mine. through the use of analogy and puns in writing and design. i want this project to be an intimate conversation with my audience. there are too many things that i cannot change completely, but i could at least make people rethink and relook. even if this is in vain, at least i might be able to open up my heart to it then.
“Music has a grammar, which, although modified from time to time, is of continual help and value as a kind of dictionary.” –Kandinsky, 1914
Former Disney audio experience engineer, Mr. Q, reveals how he assisted in developing a complex algorithm to arrange over 15,000 speakers around the Disney World theme park. All to achieve the ideal ambient music for “manufacturing emotion.”
The last time I visited Disney World, I was a bit distracted by the nausea that followed one too many rides after five too many scoops of ice cream. The visits before that though, I was entirely clearheaded. Yet not a single time did I notice the always present background music switch tunes.
Mr. Q would be laughing maniacally if he read those words. That’s because those words mean that his baby, the project he worked on in the 1990s, grew up to be a success.
Apparently the original Disney World speaker system, set up in 1968, had an unnoticeable flaw: minuscule variations in sound volume along pathways. As someone walked closer to a speaker, music would seem louder than a few steps away. Despite not a single visitor ever complaining about this common sound effect, twenty years later good ol’ Mickey decided to do something about it. Some work and a team effort later, they had Mr. Q’s system and algorithm:
The system he built can slowly change the style of the music across a distance without the visitor noticing. As a person walks from Tomorrowland to Fantasyland, for example, each of the hundreds of speakers slowly fades in different melodies at different frequencies so that at any point you can stop and enjoy a fully accurate piece of music, but by the time you walk 400 feet, the entire song has changed and no one has noticed.
So how is a system which strives to be unnoticed manufacturing emotion? According to Mr. Q, the “life is sucked out of” the park when the speakers fail. Even a slightly flawed speaker system could lead to frowns, while perfect music ambiance only leaves Goofy’s creepiness to achieve that.
Invented by Michael Callahan: Three pill-size electrodes on the throat pick up electrical signals generated between the brain and the vocal cords. A processor in the device then filters and amplifies the signals and sends them to an adjacent PC, where software decodes them and turns them into words spoken through the PC’s speakers. By placing the electrodes on the neck and “speaking” silently through vocal-cord movements (but without moving the mouth), the wearer generates enough neural activity to trigger this chain of events.
Audeo is capable of more than just giving a voice to those physically impaired though. It could be used to speak on the phone without ever actually vocalizing anything, opening up the possibilities to fantastical spy or military applications. That and it could one day get rid of that is-he-talking-to-me-or-someone-on-the-phone confusion around people wearing BlueTooth headsets.