TAUCHER Sound Environments created an acoustic room simulation for a virtual replica of one of the famous ancient Buddhist Mogao Grottoes in China. Pure Land was one of the first projects fully produced using MNTN. Here is the story.
In 2015, Pure Land: The Mogao Grottoes at Dunhuang by the Australian artists Sarah Kenderdine and Jeffrey Shaw was presented at the World Economic Forum in Dalian, China. Visitors could virtually step inside one of the famous Mogao Grottoes, a UNESCO World Heritage site. The grottoes are an ensemble of almost 500 caves in the Dunhuang region, that have been constructed inside cliffs by Buddhist monks almost 1.500 years ago. The walls and ceilings of the caves are painted with elaborate religious imagery and decorated with sculptures.
As history has it, the once reclusive caves have attracted a constant flow of visitors since their modern rediscovery, unfortunately affecting the paintings: a part of the caves had to be closed to the public in order to prevent further deterioration of the artworks. The sensual experience of setting foot inside the „Cave 220“ was once again possible with the help of this digital replica. Standing beneath the Cave Dome’s sloping ceiling, visitors were transported to the desert caves and invited to browse through the collection of ancient objects, all represented in larger-than-life 3D imaging.
TAUCHER was in charge for planning and running the sound system in the dome structure. The presentations included only two microphones and a playback audio stream from the video engine. But instead of feeding the audio signals directly onto the loudspeakers, they came up with a realtime reverberation in order to simulate the cave's acoustics by using a simple surround sound speaker arrangement connected to MNTN. The acoustic simulation made speaker’s voice sound like she was standing in a real cave contributing to the audience's feeling of actually being there. Of course, the music playback from the video engine has also been reverberated. Actually almost no one really noticed what was going on with the acoustics in the space – and this was exactly what we were aiming for. The spatial reverb made the dry and closed acoustics of the technical dome structure disappear, and opened up the acoustical space to match the visual experience of the fulldome projection with its richness of reflections.