For my master's thesis at NYU's Integrated Digital Media program, I looked at virtual reality as a potential avenue for novel musical experiences, and as a new tool for digital installations. Heavily backed in research, my thesis culminated in a function VR prototype, in which users are immersed into a spatially arranged composition, wherein they can reposition the elements of sound and create wholly unique audial experiences. The project was built in Unity for the HTC Vive and completed over the Fall of 2016. Below you will find images from along my journey, the abstract to my thesis, and the link to the full paper, for those who wish to read it.
The influx of virtual worlds accompanying the rise in virtual reality technology is limited not only to visual recreations; it also prompts questions of how this new medium can affect sound and provide new forms of audial experiences. Without the restrictions of the physical world, VR provides an avenue for sonic creation that moves past stereo and surround sound, potentially crafting a fully functional audiovisual installation in the digital realm - one in which audiences can experience the sensation of “being there” through the stimulation of “doing there” and bestowing a sense of agency over the music. Musicians without the reach, space, or resources for physical installations may have a new path of distribution for their experimental efforts, one that should naturally exist in a time during which the proliferation of access to tracks across locations and genres is increasing rapidly. Developed through Unity for the HTC Vive, Five Nights of Pan is a digital audiovisual installation that aims to explore these possibilities by crafting a functional digital world in virtual reality that grants users the agency to explore an experimental composition through movement, action, and sonic affectation.
Five Nights of Pan was regarded as the best thesis of my class by the program's co-director, and I am personally thrilled about where my thesis led me. From my first three months of research and writing, I could not have foreseen where the project would end up, and that is the absolute joy of the process. The impact of music in Virtual Reality is still unknown, and I look forward to pursuing it further.
Master's Candidate — Zach Dorsett
Panel Member, Co-Chair — DeAngela Duff
Panel Member, Co-Chair — R. Luke Dubois
Panel Member, Adviser — Kate Sicchio
Panel Member, Adviser — Ethan Hein
Panel Member — Todd Bryant
Program — NYU Integrated Digital Media, M.S.
My full thesis is available to available to download here.