If Lorin Tone's untitled installation at LEA19 isn't much to look at, that's beside the point — it's a place for listening, for our ears rather than for our eyes. Visitors wander through an ever-changing sonic landscape with contributions from Lorin, Meriadne Merlin, Nance Clowes and others. "You will find soundscape environments, interactive music machines and a number of other audio demonstrations," says Lorin in the exhibition notecard. "We suggest that your sound effects volume control in preferences be turned all the way up. Wander around, play with the displays and most importantly, listen!"
The sim is divided into numerous small parcels with titles such as Super Deluxe Noise Spewer, The Harps, SLoog Synthesizer, Sci-Fi Demo, DOM-75 Ballad Emitter, Masai Percussion and Chants Emitter, Mayan Drums, and so on, each providing a different sonic experience. Sounds are restricted to the parcels from which they emit, providing a private and contained listening experience at each location. In some instances, sounds might be generated by one's avatar colliding with an object. (A Spook Shack, presumably to feature Halloween sounds, will open on October 11.)
Second Life is such a visual medium that a sound-oriented exhibition or installation is a rarity (excluding, of course, the many live musical performances around the grid). But while LEA19 provides some excellent examples of the ways in which local sounds can be generated within Second Life, it's more of a demonstration area than an artistic experience, perhaps akin to visiting the Ivory Tower of Primitives to learn how to manipulate basic prims. A visit might leave one wondering how Lorin and his colleagues could extend their work by creating a truly immersive environment. The sim will remain open through the end of December.