Swarm - a composition for guitar and field recordings is presented in an immersive audio experience that explores the unique sonic landscape of a bee hive.
It is hard to imagine a world without bees. A third of all that we eat and much of what we wear, relies on pollination from honeybees. We can even trace the evolution of human society through bees, their honey and wax. Their contribution to the environment is well known, however, it is the honeybee’s social behaviour, more than their ecological role, that has fascinated and amazed humans down the ages. How they communicate, structure their hive and contribute to the complex dynamic of their community.
Swarm dives into the heart of the hive, giving listeners a unique sonic perspective of these fascinating creatures. The piece was written specifically for the Sonic Lab and designed to accommodate multiple listeners in a shared auditory virtual environment. Each listener has the freedom to explore the space receiving their unique binaurally decoded perspectives via wireless headphones, and in doing so influences the composition that in turn is heard by everyone else. Like the bees themselves each listener emits a sound that at times is heard by those around them. The implementation and technical side of the work are both experimental, with every experience of the work being unique and never the same twice. Spatial audio is simultaneously presented to all listeners via the lab’s loudspeaker array that supplements the headphone audio, thus forming a hybrid listening environment. .
The piece will last up to 15 minutes and can accommodate ten people at a time. There are 5 slots available for booking via Eventbrite starting at 12pm at the following times:
The work was designed and produced by Michael McKnight at the Sonic Arts Research Centre, Queen’s University Belfast as part of his PhD research.
Michael is a well established location field recordist and sound designer. He has accumulated nearly fifteen years professional experience in the film and television industry, having occupied various roles in sound recording, mixing, design and composition in both the studio and location for a broad range of programming and genres. His work has been primarily in documentary but also includes feature film, TV drama, outside broadcast, and entertainment programming for major broadcasters such as BBC, C4, ITV, RTE and Netflix, as well as independent film productions. This has led to recording all over the world with highlights in India, DR Congo, Senegal, South Africa, across Europe and North America.
His artistic practice traverses design, composition and sound art, with exhibitions and installations, that combine creative field recording, musicality and technology. As a PhD Student at the Sonic Arts Research Centre (QUB), his work focuses on the act of listening in an ‘immersive’ context and explores themes of ’space’ and ‘place’ in composing for auditory virtual environments, that utilise emerging interactive spatial technologies. His specialism in spatial audio has resulted in collaboration with virtual reality developers to provide solutions for experiences, from 360° video to large room-scale events.