Composition | Sound art | Field recording


Are we not dreaming?

Pedro Rebelo, Michael McKnight, Matilde Meireles

Immersive interactive installation

Surroundscapes - The Power of Immersive Sound symposium, Digital Catapult, Belfast

October 2019

Aprox. 12min. immersive audio (4+1 speaker array and ambisonics headphone mix on open back headphones), HTC Vive sensors, HTC Vive trackers, laptop, sculptural simulation of a well

Are We Not Dreaming? – an immersive sound experience based on the mythology and exploration of the Marble Arch Caves, Co. Fermana, Northern Ireland.

“No man has gone before us in these depths, no one knows where we go nor what we see, nothing so strangely beautiful was ever presented to us, and spontaneously we ask each other the same question: are we not dreaming?” were the words of French speleologist Édouard-Alfred Martel in 1889, upon the first exploration of Marble Arch Caves. Myth, legend and exploration diaries are brought together in a unique sonic journey which immerses the listener in the evocative and intriguing acoustic environment that characterise the caves. Employing recent research into hybrid listening and 6 Degree of Freedom VR, Are We Not Dreaming? uses innovative approaches to sound design to engage the listener in immersive storytelling.

The hybrid listening system uses a combination of binaural rendering on headphones and ambisonics on loudspeaker arrays. We showcase a number of scenarios that take advantage of the system and explore the notion of ambiguity, creating the sensation of blur between signals played over headphones and loudspeakers. The system is designed to allow for personalised listening experiences that are responsive to the listener’s position and rotation in real-time.

Full credits /

Concept and Sound Design: Pedro Rebelo, Michael McNight and Matilde Meireles

Script: Sionnán Ní Nualláin (Seamus Heaney Centre)

Voices: Deirbhile Larkin and Sean Ó Muireagáin