23 August 2010

Auditory Cues for Physical Properties

This was inspired by a friend's blog, http://learningfrompeterzumthor.wordpress.com/, chronicling his adventures and research into Peter Zumthor's architecture and what basic principles may underlie the ways by which emotions are evoked through materials and space. Below is a quote from a post in August 2010 and my comment to it regarding auditory perception.

… “We step into a room and we can sense the space. Materials surround us and we can measure their warmth, usually without touch.”

This part reminds me of some mostly unrelated, but interesting, research I came across last year. Auditory perception research (which still has a lot of uncertain territory) continues to explore humans’ ability to perceive structural information from only auditory cues. People can, with surprising relative accuracy, determine qualities of an object like shape, size, malleability and material just by hearing recordings of the object being struck. This is obvious in the context of everyday life: everyone can tell the difference between a pencil and a coin hitting the ground, but it brings up the question of how we determine these qualities, which current auditory perception theory doesn’t fully explain. Is there some other mechanism we use to sense material and sound? Just something to think about.

Here is a related article.http://www.dcs.shef.ac.uk/intranet/research/resmes/CS0210.pdf
It gets pretty heavy, but the introduction and related research sections are worth 10 minutes to anyone interested in auditory perception.

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