Beauty is in the eye of the beholder

This says a lot about people’s subjective perceptions. And it doesn’t only happen in scenic beauty, but also in music, food, smell and so on. Everyone is different and they have their own takes on good food and good music. My “sweet” is different from your “sweet” and my “soft” may be a bit “rough” to you. Is there a way to transfer subjective feelings directly to others apart from communicating in words?

I was making a presentation in US with a theme crafted with the above illustration.  In addition to using questionnaire and a rating system, I think it is important to allow the others to be immersed in the same environment in acquiring the specific information you need. My speech is to introduce a mobile app that enables users to create their own ideal soundscapes while experimenting with different sources of sound. This differs from the traditional approach of surveying the public through a soundwalk. Can a survey transfer to the mind of the soundscape designer the respondent’s specific ideas of “a good soundscape”, “vague music” and “pleasant experience”? The designers with their own personal perceptions will read the words in their own ways. After all they are reading words rather than minds.

I related the idea of soundscape designing to creating recipes and making food. I put French fries in my presentation not only to draw attention, but also to explain the idea of subjectivity. The icon of fries is a feature in the app too.

Do you think the fries connect my audience to me and the app?


情人眼裏出西施 — 主觀性對聲景評價的影響

俗語有云「情人眼裏出西施」,道出了人對美的主觀性,事實上主觀不止於視覺上對美的感受,還有聽覺、味覺、嗅覺等的好壞也極具主觀性。每個人都不一樣,對「美食」、「好聽」的音樂也有不同取態,例如不同人看待「甜」的程度不一,對於觸感的感受也不一。所以單憑言語上的溝通很難準確表達主觀感受。

最近我在美國進行了關於聲景(Soundscape)評價的匯報,用了上面的薯條圖片來說明主觀感受在聲景評價工作上的影響。聲景評價指受訪者為特定一個聲音環境評估打分,表達他們對該聲景的感受,從而了解人們如何感受聲環境,意見可用於聲景設計或城市規劃。聲景評價多使用問卷和評分,但在此之上我認為有必要讓受訪者沉浸於同一環境中,我們團隊特別為此開發了一個聲景評價軟件,讓用戶設計自己喜歡的聲景,然後在軟件中感受效果。軟件使用三維虛擬畫面和聲效,讓用戶感受像真度極高的體驗,再反映自己感受。讓用戶自訂聲景可以讓其準確表達自己的喜好,而不是使用「好的聲景」、「微弱的聲音」或「舒適的體驗」等字眼,避免了不同人對此的主觀演繹。

這跟薯條有甚麼關係呢?我在匯報中把聲景設計比喻為自訂菜單和做菜,例如薯條也有不同種類和做法,長短粗幼不一,有人愛吃鹹的、香脆的、軟熟的,或加蕃茄醬或用調味粉,每人口味各異,十分主觀,如果有人說太鹹,別人也不知道要下多少鹽才剛好,就像聲景評價的回饋般,讓聲景設計師無所適從。匯報中我就以此來解釋主觀演繹對聲景評估的影響。

我們的軟件讓用戶和聲景設計師在同一平台中溝通,用戶明白聲景設計的基礎,其設計亦準確回饋予設計師,促進更好的交流,推動有效的聲景評價。