Son.AR App

Son.AR is an app that offers an immersive and multimedia experience broadening and morphing the concepts of augmented reality, informational guide, audio communication and digital archive. It aims to contribute to the field of public art by mediating the artworks and the audience’s experience while, at the same time, creating an archive of time-based media. It creates new layers of access, one that can bring us closer to the artists, their work and the city.

Designed for iPhone and Android platforms, Son.AR invites us to experience sonic augmented reality in the vicinity of the Screen City Biennial venues, serving as navigation assistance as well as a visual orientation within the city and harbor of Stavanger. It also provides users with sonic and textual information about the works, artists, program and exhibition venues. An advanced sound spatialisation algorithm leveraging 3D binaural imaging and location tracking allows users to interact with their environment by moving towards, around and away from the locations. This technology allows for sound cues to respond in real-time to their movements, and it is used to create an augmented sonic superposition on Stavanger’s physical map, simulating a virtual space in the users’ earphones.

In Son.Ar, the auditory sense is a central feature for the user experience.
The authors used audio morphing as the main sound composition: nature is morphed into synthetic sounds and vice- versa, in an amorphous Moebius ring which acts as an emblem of precarious balance due to the environmental transformation. New sound ecologies arise, serving as a tool to improve our consciousness of the world. The algorithm creates what the authors called sonic objects, new hybrid sounds that combine aspects of existing ones with others that are unreal, resulting in unique sounds barely ascribable in both realistic and digital domains. The exhibition venues then become a constellation of sound entities, intended as augmented areas of discovery activated by the audience: an attempt to expand the current social framework and to mediate the experience of art. The combination of sound spatialization, interactive navigation and public art represents a unique chance to enrich not only the auditory culture at large but to socially design qualitative and accessible augmented and virtual worlds. A new challenge to the market- orientation of conventional design practice and furthermore presents a possibility to investigate new orientation tools and aesthetic experiences for the blind and visually impaired community.

The app has been developed and conceptualized by Art Republic and Mote, a Berlin-based studio run by Davide Luciani and Fabio Perletta, in collaboration with programmer Mauro Ferrario and audio developer/spatial audio consultant Jordan Juras.

Son.AR (2019) is presented as a pilot. The app will be developed to a 2.0 version and shared to other public art events and institutions, aiming to mediate, augment and archive time-based art installations in public space.

This Son.AR pilot 2019 is commissioned by the Screen City Biennial, and supported by Stavanger Sentrum/Byen and Stavanger City Council.