Tone and ambience in Second Life

Lorin Tone
Lorin Tone

Lorin Tone is the name of a new aural installation, open through to the end of 2016, intended to to demonstrate the wide variety of uses in-world sounds can be put to within Second Life. The installation takes it name from the master of ambient sound, Lorin Tone, who shares the environment with Nance Clowes “and others” (one of whom I assume could be Lorin’s partner, Judi Newall).

For those who travel the grid extensively with local sound enabled, this might sound a “well, duh!”, kind of idea: many region designers spend a good deal of time adding a soundscape to their environment, so we’re accustomed to hearing them every day (although that in itself can cause us to “tune them out”).

Lorin Tone - Madcow Cosmos' whimsical sound creatures
Lorin Tone – Madcow Cosmos’ whimsical sound creatures

But sounds are also more than just ambient background; they can be used in a wide variety of ways to add atmosphere to an environment, both passively and actively, triggered or experienced in a wide variety of ways – touch, collision, proximity, and so on.

So it is that this installation offers a series of individual parcels (denoted by the stone paths running between them) in which various sound scape can be experienced. The layout might not be that visually appealing, but a slow exploration through it will reveal how aurally rich they are, and the cornucopia of sound options available for in-world use. There are things to touch, walk past and through; to step on, play, bounce across and ride.

Lorin Tone
Lorin Tone – hunated graveyard (set your environment to midnight 🙂 )

Signs throughout the installation offer an introduction to each area and when touched will furnish some additional information on what is being achieved (and how to use each area). There is a certain degree of fun to be had in exploring and colliding with or touching things, and it is hard not to end up smiling. The bouncy (sand) castles got things off to a good start for Caitlyn and I (take the rope slide to the right of the landing point as you face them), while a skyborne race track offers something for petrol heads.

But – there is sadly a “but”, albeit a small one. The soundscapes largely stand as parcels without visual theme, and some might be seen as slightly repetitive in form. While this is intended to be an aural environment, I couldn’t help but feel more might have been gained by making it more visually immersive as well.

Lorin Tone
Lorin Tone

That said, for anyone interested in the depth and range to which in-world sounds can be put to good effect, the installation is well worth a visit. As noted, it will be open through until the end of December 2016.

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