The Planetorium: Sonic Information Design for Earthling Audiences (2018)

R. Michael Winters, Avrosh Kumar (co-author)

About this exposition

For millennia, humans have looked into the night sky and wondered at what they saw. This curiosity led them to develop instruments that enabled them to look deeply into space, which revealed celestial bodies in ever-greater detail. They developed new mathematics and physics to better understand and predict the cosmos and began to teach each other, pointing to what they knew to be true. Sadly, as the objective facts and figures poured in with ever-increasing precision, the oral traditions of myths, stories, and gods began to fade from view. In the past century, some humans have worked to cultivate a new technology that would allow humans to use their ears to hear the objects that, before, they could only see. By transforming numbers into sound, humans could listen again, which made those who could hear it very happy. However, others did not comprehend it, became confused, and began to ask one another: How can I make sense of something I cannot see? How do I know what I am hearing is true? Is this some kind of music, or something else altogether? In this paper, we use “The Planetorium” as a metaphor and context for understanding how we might best design aural celestial experiences for earthling audiences. Audiences are groups of individual humans all listening to the same thing at the same place for some length of time. And while planetariums are places they go to learn about space through stunning views and new perspectives, planetoriums (like auditoriums) are places they go to listen.
typeresearch exposition
last modified10/10/2018
published inJournal of Sonic Studies
portal issue17. Issue 17

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