Studies in Sound and Vibration

David Bobier, Director/Curator, VibraFusionLab

VibraFusionLab: an innovative centre for arts-based vibrotactile research and creative practice.

VibraFusionLab is a media arts centre based in London, Ontario that provides opportunities for the creation and presentation of multi-sensory artistic practice, partnering with other arts and technology-related organizations in order to achieve this. As an interactive creative media studio VibraFusionLab promotes and encourages the creation of new accessible art forms, including the vibrotactile, and focuses on inclusive technologies that have the potential of expanding art-making practices in the deaf, blind, disabled and hearing communities, and for creating more inclusive experiences for deaf, blind, disabled and hearing audiences.

Providing the opportunity to create compositions and expand artistic practices that are designed to be experienced as tactile stimuli (rather than acoustic sound), this art form is accessible to a greater diversity of artists and audiences alike. VibraFusionLab represents considerable potential in generating artistic development and innovative research in vibration and the tactile as an artistic modality. It furthers the desire of combining alternative language, communication and emotional strategies and experiences into artistic practice. In addition, the use of this type of interactive multimedia, multisensory approach provides those with different abilities to enjoy equal participation. It provides the potential for making various forms of artistic expression more accessible. It offers new and unique approaches for those with diverse abilities to produce art using an innovative tactile mode and opens alternative opportunities through artistic expression.

Over the last decade, consumers have witnessed a dramatic increase in the use of low-fidelity, discrete vibrotactile feedback to enhance or replace audio stimuli in entertainment systems. However, use of high-resolution, continuous vibrotactile displays remains quite uncommon. The Emoti-Chair is a high-resolution, continuous vibrotactile display system that may be driven by any type of audio signal and is purported to convey the emotional properties of sound through organized vibrotactile stimulation. The Emoti-Chair project was developed by the Inclusive Media and Design Centre, IMDC, (formerly Centre for Learning Technologies) at Ryerson University in Toronto, Ontario and expanded by Tactile Audio Displays Inc., (TAD) Toronto. The research concept was to develop a theatre chair for the purposes of presenting a tactile vibrational representation of the movie audio files.

The technology separates audio signals into discrete vibrotactile output channels (voice coils) that can be presented on the body to create a high-resolution audiotactile experience through direct connection with musical instruments, live sound and digital sound files.

A partnership between IMDC, TAD and VibraFusionLab resulted in this one-of-a-kind innovative studio space. Other collaborative projects include Tangled Arts + Disability (Toronto); Tangled London (London, ON); Project Re•Vision, REDLAB  (University of Guelph); Deep Listening Institute (Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY); Department of Disability Studies at Kings College (University of Western University, London, ON); InterAccess and the Music Gallery (Toronto); Inter Arts matrix (Waterloo, ON); Centre3 (Hamilton); Mobile Media Lab, (Montreal); Together 2012, (London, UK); Art Gallery of Guelph; Adi Hollander (Amsterdam)

VibraFusionLab has hosted and worked with artists and musicians from Canada, United States, Holland and United Kingdom including Deirdre Logue, Graham Smith, Gordon Monahan, Marla Hlady, Ellen Moffat, Isabella Stefanescu, Cailen Dye, Rick Sacks, Dennis Siren, Jason Doell, Emilie Lebel, Gayle Young, Allison Cameron, Brent Lee, Jesse Stewart, Moe Clark, as well as, Deaf and/or disabled artists Lindsay Fisher, Lynx Sainte-Marie, Chisato Minamimura, Alison O’Daniel, Catherine McKinnon, Tiphaine Girault, Rachel Gadsden, Chantal Dequire, Tracey Salaway, Alexander Genievsky.