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The Tesseract

A tesseract is a four-dimensional analog of a cube. It is hard to see one with our three-dimensional frame of reference, and no one knows what it really looks like, but with ICAT pushing the frontier of creativity and technology, we are creating what a tesseract might sound like. For an organization that manages the Cube, one of its studios since 2013, it was only a matter of time before a tesseract joined the list of studios; this one, however, has a feature that none of the other ICAT studios have; its ability to be mobile.

Designed by ICAT’s immersive audio specialist Tanner Upthegrove in collaboration with artists Stephen Vitiello (Whether There Was a Bell or Whether I Knocked, 2018, Institute for Contemporary Art at Virginia Commonwealth University) and Trey Spruance (Auragami, 2017, Cube Fest, Virginia Tech), the Tesseract is the solution to not being able to bring the 140-speaker array of the Cube outside of Virginia Tech’s Moss Arts Center.

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This versatile studio has a high-density loudspeaker array that opens the possibility for ICAT and its researchers to take all of the awe-inspiring spatial audio from the Cube and package it into a walkable, transportable sound that allows about six listeners a time to experience it. The Tesseract is more than just a bite-sized version of the Cube devoid of any walls. Without it, projects such as Celestial GardenLiminal Spaces, the Sonification of Cybersecurity data project, or the exhibition Sound Horizons would not have been possible.

The Tesseract offers boundless experiences to anyone who enters its premises, demonstrating the extravagance of immersive audio technology and one-of-a-kind experiences. When it is out and about on a future exhibit, we hope you will have the chance to catch it in all its glory. And if you plan to make a trip into the fourth dimension and above, please document what a tesseract actually looks like and send us a video; we would love to use our Tesseract to report on your experience of a real one.