An interface and framework design for interactive aesthetic sonification

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Beilharz, Kirsty
Ferguson, Sam
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This paper describes the interface design of our AeSon (Aesthetic Sonification) Toolkit motivated by user-centred customisation of the aesthetic representation and scope of the data. The interface design is developed from 3 premises that distinguish our approach from more ubiquitous sonification methodologies. Firstly, we prioritise interaction both from the perspective of changing scale, scope and presentation of the data and the user's ability to reconfigure spatial panning, modality, pitch distribution, critical thresholds and granularity of data examined. The user, for the majority of parameters, determines their own listening experience for real-time data sonification, even to the extent that the interface can be used for live data-driven performance, as well as traditional information analysis and examination. Secondly, we have explored the theories of Tufte, Fry and other visualization and information design experts to find ways in which principles that are successful in the field of information visualization may be translated to the domain of sonification. Thirdly, we prioritise aesthetic variables and controls in the interface, derived from musical practice, aesthetics in information design and responses to experimental user evaluations to inform the design of the sounds and display. In addition to using notions of meter, beat, key or modality and emphasis drawn from music, we draw on our experiments that evaluated the effects of spatial separation in multivariate data presentations.
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