Visual Narration in a Sonic Ambience: A Case Study based on Tiberius Grotto

E. Lemi

The word immersion first appeared at the beginning of the 17th century, an epoch of various interesting changes in perception, as the one of the “light microscope” has brought (first used with natural light). In all likelihood, the change in perception as regards the discovery of “distant” worlds, created the need for change in the way we comprehend and envision our surroundings. Romanyshyn describes how this new instrument, among others, brought about changes into human perception: he describes “the single eye” up from this point was capable of detecting a new distance that has been created. Romanyshyn reads the cartesian “I think therefore I am” the philosophical proof of existence that signified a foundational motto describing the western thinking, as the articulation of the “distance from the body which the geometry of linear perspective vision has created”. Similar to the microscope, the telescope gives us the opportunity to detect the world outside and imagine then parallel possibilities with the actual self-living and knowing that the self belongs to 3 different orbits or more. 150 years later, electric light was broadly used and compound microscopes were created, similar to the ones of four-lens that are broadly used today, widely known as “immersion lenses” that provide 100x magnification. 

Immersion spread to vocabulary, while stemming from the Latin word “immerse” that means “to plunge into, or place under a liquid, to involve deeply and to embed”. The term defines among others, according to the analog rule of naming, the state of being immersed. Therefore, we have tactical, strategic, narrative, sensory-motoric, cognitive, emotional, spatial immersion and so on. As a term it is broadly used in contemporary art for describing installations that use human computer interaction in order to achieve this embedded feeling of complete participation, absorption, and therefore embodiment. Most contemporary Cave Automatic Virtual Environments (known as C.A.V.Es) research human perception and the term of immersion over the past 30 years worldwide in many labs. Immersion as a term is broadly used for artificial acoustic environments, mostly because sound has the power to captivate and absorb us within its inner “clock-tick”: music needs time and space to develop. Adorno refers to the self-evidence of the temporality of music, as its “temporal relationships ” synchronize the viewer-listener to what it will be called here: a participant. This is the best way for this project to allow viewers/ listeners to use all and “trust” all senses, experience the grotto and becoming through the experiential process from spectators to participants. In addition, artistic process has built the very first “instruments/tools” to cultivate perception. The prehistoric caves manifest such functionality, and C.A.V.Es’ theoretical background connects theories of perception with Plato’s allegory of the Cave. Tiberius’ cave at Sperlonga was constructed in the absence of all the above theoretical background, but while describing the place, contemporary research in transdisciplinarity between art and science can offer a flexible model in artistic participation for any user.   

OTSF Archaeoacoustics Conference Publication 2016

The Pharos of Alexandria as a Total Work of Art and a Soundscape

M.Gkikaki and E.Lemi 

The Pharos of Alexandria constitutes one of the earliest monumental lighthouses. The purpose and function of the Pharos were by no means limited to navigation, and the tower-like construction was conceived as a symbol with aesthetic aspirations that set the standards for the Roman architects in designing harbor lighthouses. Moreover, the Pharos was considered the landmark of the metropolis Alexandria and was uninterruptedly used as such in all depictions of the city until the late medieval times. The purpose of this paper is to demonstrate the interaction of mythical space, unique landscape, dynastic propaganda, monumental architecture as well as visual and acoustic effects. The Pharos appealed to sensationalism by means of illusion. Focusing on the Pharos as a total artwork, and viewing it through the prism of the contemporary history of art and music, we analyse the characteristics that render it a masterpiece. As a soundscape, the Pharos is connected to the environment and the perception of the people who lived in the area in a refined era. In this sense this artwork connects ancient and contemporary thought as well as Oriental and European sensory flair.

OTSF Archaeoacoustics Conference Publication 2014

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