25.Mar.14 Guest Lecture: Zach Seldess on Spatial Sound

By | March 22, 2014

Adventures and Challenges in Spatial Sound: a discussion of common assumptions and constraints, and a smattering of idiosyncratic “solutions” through recent artistic and applied research 

– by Zachary Seldess –

WHEN: Tuesday, March 25th, 12:30PM (composition seminar)
WHERE: NYU Music Department
24 Waverly Place, Room 220, NY 10003


In this talk, Zachary will present his recent artistic research in spatial sound. These projects will be discussed:

  • “A Head of View”: a multi-player hybrid real-space/game-space sound installation.
  • “Stampede”: large-scale high-performance graphics and data-driven sound design software
  • A MaxMSP port of Meyer Sound’s SpaceMap™: a unique spatial sound design dealing in spatial “maps”

The act of authoring sound for space is, consciously or not, built upon on a broad series of assumptions and requirements ranging from the purely artistic/conceptual to the technical/practical.

How will audio be “delivered”? Is the delivery method even known at the time of authoring?

How will sounds inhabit and behave within space? Will they conform to real-world expectations in terms of location or behave in ways that stretch or defy the laws of physics?

Is the sound space a virtual extension of the listener’s real-space? Is it a sonic extension of a real or synthetic 3D visual space projected onto a flat surface in either 2D or 3D?

These and many, many more issues inform and constrain our experience in spatial sound design, composition, and performance.


Zachary Seldess (b. 1976), a Chicago native now living in San Diego by way of New York City and Saudi Arabia, is a programmer, media artist, composer, and teacher.

As a composer and programmer, Zachary has collaborated with artists in many mediums including theater, dance, film, and poetry. He has presented interactive installations at Gallery Aferro in Newark New Jersey, ZKM (Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie) in Karlsruhe Germany, and Siggraph Asia 2009 in Yokohama Japan. His work has been published/presented in Antennae, NIME 2007 and 2011, Chamber Music America National Conference 2009, Siggraph 2011, ICAD 2011, and IS&T/SPIE Electronic Imaging 2014. Together with performer-composer Jane Rigler, Zachary co-designed the Manhattan New Music Project’s Music Cre8tor – an interactive educational sensor/software interface designed specifically for children with disabilities. Other projects include sound design and programming for New York-based dancer Johari Mayfield; and design of real-time multi-channel audio and video performance software for video artist Hisao Ihara. Zachary has also programmed for artists Mari Kimura, Lillian Ball, Rashaad Newsome, Cory Arcangel, Patrick Clancy, Miguel Frasconi, Rebecca Cherry, Mem1, Tobaron Waxman, Shana Moulton, and others.

Zachary currently works as Senior Audio Research Engineer at the Sonic Arts R&D Group, Qualcomm Institute, CalIT2, UC San Diego. Previously, he worked as Audio Systems Coordinator and Developer at the Visualization Lab, King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST). In New York, Zachary worked at Harvestworks, teaching courses in interactive programming ranging from introductory courses in Max/MSP/Jitter and Processing to special topics such as multi-channel audio/video spatialization and live video tracking. Zachary also worked as an adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College CUNY, and as a researcher at the CUNY Graduate Center’s New Media Lab, where he designed interactive pedadogical tools and artistic environments in 3D Game Space. In Chicago, Zachary worked as a performer, composer, private teacher and adjunct professor at Wilbur Wright College and Harold Washington College. In 2005, Zachary founded the Intermedia Arts Group, a collective committed to the support and performance of new and interactive media artwork within the CUNY artistic community. He is co-founder and previous co-director of the New York City Electroacoustic Music Festival.