Augmented musicians rejoice – Explore the new Fields VR app


We’ve written before on both VR/Augmented reality and AI in music. But Fields takes it to the main streams of music lovers. It’s a new iOS app that allows you to create 3D spatial sound compositions using augmented reality. It also includes original installations by notable artists. So why not add some field recordings that blends with your compositions in an augmented environment. If virtual reality is to claustrophobic for you then augmented reality or even mixed reality might be your thing.  Several attempts has been made in this area but this  studio is delivering apps that you may actually want to use – including collaborations with artists like Matmos, Safety Scissors, Robert Lippok, Patrick Russell, Ami Yamasaki, and Patrick Higgins (of Zs). In the video below you’ll find an introduction to Fields:

NYC based Planeta studio may be on the right track to actually deliver something that is more than just a gimmick or an app that you try a couple of times and then let it be. They’ve got two apps now, one for VR, and one for AR.

The free app, available to download on the App Store, transforms your environment into a three-dimensional canvas for sounds, which you experience by walking around wearing headphones. Represented in the app by glowing orbs, the sounds change in volume and stereo positioning depending on the user’s real-life proximity to the orbs. Imagine standing in a forest, hearing different animals and noises as you step through your living room, or being able to experience a choral performance while nestled among the singers. Fields makes that possible.

You also can use the iPhone’s built-in microphone to make your own “scenes,” i.e. the app’s different AR worlds. Stand in a spot and sing, clap, make any noise, and then walk away. The sound will persist and loop where you left it. If you move while recording, the resulting sound will move along the same path, making for a dynamic installation.

Fields is intended both for listening and creation. Sounds form spatial “sculptures,” which you can build up on your own by assembling loops or recording sounds, then mix with the environment around you – as viewed through the display of your iOS device. The really good part to this is actually that Planeta has teamed up with real musicians to deliver more unique experiences; e.g. Ryuichi Sakamoto collaborator, or Robert Lippok (of Raster Media, née Raster-Noton). The app is of course also geared up to be interactive meaning that you can share your experiences or your recordings both with other friends and the artists that made the originals.

Planeta even teamed up with the Guggenheim museum to do some really cool stuff. And furthermore they’re also helping Berlin’s Monom space, which is powered by the 4DSOUND spatial audio system, to deliver sounds that otherwise would have to get squashed into a bland stereo mix. The ability to appreciate spatial works outside of limited installation venues may help listeners get deeper with the music, and take the experience home.

“Fields is a way of making and experiencing three-dimensional sound installations,” says Chris Maier, who developed the app alongside Nick Dangerfield, Vicki Siolos, and Dylan Romer. “When you’re laying out sounds spatially, you can create relationships between sounds and ideas that you couldn’t otherwise create in the comparatively narrow confines of a stereo mix. So I’m really interested to see how people might explore narrative storytelling with it.”

In a recent interview the creators said this about the project and the artists they’ve worked with in relation to Fields:

Any artists you’d love to see create installations on Fields?

ND: I’m quite in love with Jenny Hval right now, so I will definitely ask her if she wants to try this out soon.

CM: Mine would be Laurie Anderson.

What compelled you to reach out to folks like Robert Lippok and Matmos to demo this app? Any other collaborations in the works?

ND: Fanhood. Robert Lippok is someone I’ve admired since I was a child. He’s really developed an electronic language. The contours of his sound are something that I really like, so he was someone that was an immediate choice for this. Matmos as well—they’re absolutely wonderful and they’ve done incredible work with the abstraction of sound.

We’re also working with MONOM, which is a 3-D sound institute in Berlin that commissions many pieces and artists to play at their space, which has a 64-channel configuration. Essentially we will be publishing the pieces that are commissioned for the space, because they could not believe that this was going to be technically possible with a phone app. We’re also doing a project with Guggenheim in June, which will be about creating sonic replicas of the Guggenheim with the app. The idea is that this can become a constant space for publication of pieces that involve space.

CM: Right now, we are generating a lot more questions than answers. We really want to just get this tool out there, see how users use it, how people want to use it, and try to make something where people can really express themselves.

More info here:

http://fields.planeta.cc/