AUDIO GHOSTS: Illusive perceptions – Perceptual illusions

Team: Bernhard Gál (PI) | Veronika Mayer | Piotr Majdak | Florian Pausch
Affiliation: Artistic Research Center, University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna
National Research Partner: Acoustics Research Institute, Austrian Academy of Sciences
Duration: October 2023 – September 2026

This research project is funded by the Austrian Science Fund (FWF) [PEEK AR 774-G].

The arts-based research project AUDIO GHOSTS deals with auditory illusions – auditory impressions that physically do not exist but are still perceived by humans. Auditory illusions can be deliberately used for sound installations to create so-called “auditory ghosts”. Such sound installations are concerned with the artistic design and experience of acoustic environments. AUDIO GHOSTS incorporates the spatial effects created by auditory illusions: Depending on the listening position, sound events can be perceived in various ways, encouraging listeners to create personal sound experiences. 

In the course of the project, the following research questions will be addressed:

1) How to incorporate auditory illusions in musical compositions?

2) How to investigate the nature and effects of auditory illusions when using the tools of art-based research?

3) To what extent can sound installations involving auditory illusions enhance conscious physical, sensory, and emotional experience?

In AUDIO GHOSTS, art-based research methods and compositional approaches will be combined with the scientific state-of-the art methods of audio-signal processing and psychoacoustics. By doing so, our understanding of auditory illusions will be expanded and made accessible to a wide audience of both scientists and composers.

A custom-made listening lab will facilitate the composition of sound installations tailored to the project’s content. In perceptual experiments, the effects of these compositions will be investigated by means of questionnaires and interviews. This way, the invited artists will be able to systematically work on sound installations and present their results within the framework of a festival.

All research activities will be documented in an online blog and compiled in a listening archive. The results of the project will be presented at scientific conferences and published in scholarly journals.

AUDIO GHOSTS is considered a lighthouse project for deepening our understanding of the unexplored perceptual areas of sound installations. The project is led by sound researcher Bernhard Gál and composer Veronika Mayer (Artistic Research Center of the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna). From the psychoacoustic perspective, they will be accompanied and supported by scientists Piotr Majdak and Florian Pausch (Acoustics Research Institute of the Austrian Academy of Sciences). The project is supported by a scientific advisory board which unites experts from music, sound art, philosophy, and the social sciences.