Container Study

Speaker in a shipping container
Container Study, a 3D Sound Installation

Container Study is a site-specific sound composition for a single freight container, eight speakers and a subwoofer.  The piece explores both the acoustic properties of the metal container, and sounds that are associated with a shipping container.  The piece is a real time, generative sonic journey using freesound.org as a sound database.  Sounds are searched for and downloaded using the audio synthesis language SuperCollider and Freesound's API. The sounds are immediately available for playback. Sounds are categorized by type (e.g. trains, fog horns, etc.) and used at appropriate moments in the composition.  The result is a controlled randomness, where the type of sound is known, but which specific sound file is unknown.  The listener enters the container through black curtains to simulate being in a closed container.  The container is meant to be dark but not pitch black. The listener is then taken on a sonic journey by train, boat and wind.  Each section is grounded by these recognizeable sounds, and then departs to mysterious sound worlds. In the container are 8 speakers and one subwoofer.  The 8 speakers are arranged in a bi-rectangular ambisonic array.  Thus the composed sound is in 3D and oscillates from sounds moving around the space to sounds completely filling the space.   Careful attention was made to make the container resonate by utilizing its natural resonant frequencies, in which the sound seems to vibrate just outside of the listener's ear.