Artist Focuses Sound Waves Like Laser Beams To Create Mythical Installation

Daichi Misawa uses hypersonic sound to make "Reverence In Ravine" something metaphysical

Sean Higgins

Artist, Daichi Misawa, is channelling something spiritual with his new interactive, audio-visual art project, Reverence In RavineThis isn't a conceptual Ouija board, though. To clarify, the sound art maestro is using specialized speakers and a visual loop to present an audiovisual experience inspired by a recent visit to Nara, Japan--a trip that was personal, intimate, and for lack of a better word... spiritual. 

Misawa refers to this project as the “acoustic formation of invisible entities,” making the comparison to ethereal energy and metaphysical vibes clear. According to the artist, the installation is meant to present a growing awareness of the spirits that animate all things in nature.

Reverence In Ravine includes a one-minute loop paired with a computer algorithm to generate a new set of abstract sounds and visuals each time the clip restarts. There are a finite number of abstractions, though, so each new loop feel different and familiar at the same time. The installation gets more interesting, however, when we analyze its seemingly-mystic use of hypersonic sound.

The speakers that Misawa uses are called parametric arrays, which are mechanisms that use small, ultrasonic waves to direct sound like a spotlight (or: to shoot it like a laser beam). This is also called hypersonic sound, which was detailed on a recent TED Talk.

Where a common loudspeaker can be heard by anyone nearby, a parametric array can be heard only by people standing directly in the path of its sound beam. The installation uses these arrays to produce sound so that depending on where you stand within the space, you could hear something very different from someone standing just a few steps to your side.

If you place your head in one location within the three-dimensional space of the installation, you might hear one sound beam. If you place your head down, a little bit back, and to the left, you might hear the combination of multiple sound beams crossing over one another. Misawa calls the locations where the sound beams cross "sweet spots." These sweet spots connect together to form a sonic object, one that you can hear coming to life in the space every time the loop repeats. Each time the loop repeats, a new, different but familiar sonic object is animated.

Regardless if you believe in a spiritual realm, life force, or Qi--Misawa's project is a creative exploration of sound and space that hits our personal sweet spots. Take a look below to see the specific designs behind the project.