Journal of Sonic Studies, volume 6, nr. 1 (January 2014)Daniel Hug; Moritz Kemper: FROM FOLEY TO FUNCTION: A PEDAGOGICAL APPROACH TO SOUND DESIGN FOR NOVEL INTERACTIONS
Mark Weiser's (Weiser 1995) vision of the ubiquitous computer has become a reality. From smartphones, which disappear in our pockets, to the computers hidden in our cars, appliances, and houses, to recent gadgets such as Google’s Glass or Samsung’s smart watch, we are surrounded by interactive commodities. Many of these technologies have in common limited possibilities for visual display, be it due to small or nonexistent screens, because we need our eyes for other tasks during a typical use situation, or because the need for consulting a display may be disruptive. Furthermore, a display may be undesirable for aesthetic reasons. Thus, this literally “disappearing” technology offers several opportunities for using sound in its design. However, due to the relative novelty of such applications, there is a lack of experience and best practice in terms of how and when to use sound.
In our view, it is important to understand that sound designers dealing with interactive experiences, or - perhaps more common - (interaction) designers who use sound, are contributing to a process of exploration. At the same time, they are creating standard-setting definitions of what possible future experiences of sound in interactive artifacts can be. Today’s design decisions will define, to a significant extent, how sound in interactive applications will be judged in the near future. From an optimistic standpoint, the situation can be compared to the time of the "New Hollywood" movement in cinema. The (freshly graduated) "movie brats" (Pye and Myles 1979) managed to create and establish a new sonic mainstream aesthetics, which relied on subversion and avant-garde thinking and practice, bringing film sound to a whole new level (Flückiger 2001). This demonstrates that such times of transition offer a real chance for innovative design to set new standards. We believe that we are in a similar situation today in relation to sonic interaction design, sonification, and auditory display. Therefore, the pressing question is: what are our guiding principles, ideals, and aesthetic values, and how will today's design decisions (or the absence of "design" in many of these decisions) impact the soundscape of tomorrow? And how can young designers be educated to embrace the mindset of the New Hollywood “movie brats”?