Culture

Taylor Lee Shepherd Brings Sound to the Screen

For most of its history, Dolby has created invisible products. From noise reduction to Dolby Atmos®, many of our most important products have been technological enhancements to sound, the invisible medium.

That is, invisible to most. But not to Taylor Lee Shepherd, a New Orleans–based sound artist whose work has a way of making sound more visual.

For the installation at Dolby, Shepherd created what he says are “affectionately known as homemade oscilloscopes.”

“I came across the idea of making oscilloscopes while looking into ways of visually representing sound,” Shepherd says. “What I think is most interesting about them is that they make something available to your senses that wouldn’t normally be available. When you can see sound, it can be incredibly mesmerizing, like you can really look into it and go into a trance and go somewhere else.”

Mesmerizing is a good word for Shepherd’s installation at Dolby. Several old televisions sit atop industrial-looking shelves displaying waveforms in bright colors.

“My installation for Dolby is comprised of an array of CRT televisions that are rewired internally to accept an audio signal through a set of microphones and amplifiers and show a real-time response,” Shepherd says. “They are visual responses to sound within the immediate vicinity.”

In its new home in our San Francisco headquarters at 1275 Market Street, Shepherd’s work constantly interprets and displays the sounds of Dolby at work.

But even with the obvious links between Dolby and Shepherd’s world of visible sound, the artist wanted to emphasize one key difference between the two.

“I love the funny feeling of how Dolby is such a high-fidelity entity and I’m doing low fidelity,” Shepherd says, “so I like to mix in the textured sounds with the smooth, clean pristine sound that they are known for.”

In addition, Shepherd has to admit part of the reason he chose oscilloscopes, beyond all of the reasons above, comes down to choosing a medium he enjoys putting his hands on. “I really like working behind a high-voltage television set.”