Aural postcard: Disney in the Aquarium

20120630-133824.jpg So as part of ICAD 2012 in Atlanta, GA we got a private visit to the aquarium and as per usual, in addition to the amazing fish, whale sharks, belugas and giant manta rays, I was paying some attention to the sonic designs of each exhibit. Along with some cool “authentic sounds” by the beluga tank and the African penguin habitat (recorded real-time sounds piped into the viewing gallery), there was a prevalent Disney-style musical backdrop to a lot of the big-tank fish exhibits. For the first hour I was reflecting on the media intertextuality of Disney musical traditions, evocative of film soundtracks as a level of remediation. But as regular patrons tapered out, and our group was left to enjoy the fishes on our own, sans children screaming and running around, I caught myself getting into the music, despite myself. Suddenly the slow, airy and breathy melodic tones synced perfectly with the gliding of large fish all around and above our heads, and the occasional buildup of cymbal or trilling of bells that punctuated the dreamy musical score seemed to perfectly align with the emergence of some fish from behind a reef or corner. Almost like it was orchestrated to do so, like a film-dance fusion of aquarium choreography.  I am left to ask myself was this type of design so intentional that it leads my mind there, or is my mind so habituated to the conventions of cinema and remediated audio-visual synchronicity that it leads me there regardless of design?

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