Unseen Sound


Andy Slater




Sound and text

Project description

In Unseen Sound, Andy Slater uses spatial audio as a wayfinding tool to remap and reorient lived experiences of real and virtual space. Created with virtual gallery New Art City’s space-building engine, this virtual experience invites players to navigate a nonvisual space entirely by sound. As players use a joystick to wander and explore, they encounter and trigger sonic events that seem to emanate from unknown worlds. Referencing the phenomena of Crypto Acoustic Auditory Non-Hallucinations, or phantom sounds heard by individuals that defy scientific explanation, Unseen Sound uses audio as material for science fiction worldbuilding. These sounds activate real-time sonic descriptive texts that appear on a large monitor in the installation. Just as the sounds encountered in the virtual world are enigmatic, these sonic descriptions guide visitors through another uncharted form of access that at times clarify, and at other moments confuse. Embodying blind modalities of being, Slater’s work reimagines drifting as aural adventure through a speculative sonic environment. 


There are two ways to experience Unseen Sound. One is through the ears and one is through the eyes. A table in the room hosts a gaming joystick, a headphone amplifier, and a pair of headphones. This is how you can interact with the piece sonically. Grab the joystick, put on the headphones, and get to it. There is nothing to look at. This is a fictional audio-only experience. Detailed instructions and a physical description of the room are available at the webpage designated to Unseen Sound. It is accessible by QR code on the wall text and on the table top.

Some of the Unseen Sounds might be loud, dissonant, noisy, and dramatic. Please make use of the volume control on the headphone amp.

If you are Deaf, hard of hearing or prefer not to put on the headphones, you can experience the piece through captions and sound descriptions on the big wall-mounted monitor. You may sit on the bench. Interacting with the sounds of the virtual world will activate the captions onscreen. This text describes the sounds and scenes. They vary in length and verbosity, metaphor and detail and can appear and disappear quickly or stay static for a longer period of time. When no one is engaged with the virtual world, the screen will be blank.


Room with a circular table against the back wall. A chair sits in front of the table, facing the wall. A large monitor displays text “Welcome to Unseen Sound.” Across from the monitor is a short bench.
Diagonal shot of a monitor with a blue screen. White text with black highlight displays in the center reading "putting back in a bottle a balloon deflates you will encounter all kinds of different sounds."
Circular table with joystick and buttons on a controller. There is a headphone amp with lights on and a pair of headphones directly in front of the controller. To the left of the controller is a QR code.
Visitor with pale hands is interacting with a joystick and buttons on a controller. There is a headphone amp with lights on directly in front of the controller. To the left of the controller is a QR code.
Monitor displaying a blue background with white text and black highlight around. Text reads "There's no time limit to Unseen Sounds so get lost until you get bored."

Virtual walkthrough


Artist interview


Production support from New Art City (Benny Lichtner, Don Hanson, and Sammie Veeler)

Accessibility advising by Revecca Torres

Access/Unseen Sound