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Themesicon: navigation pathSound and Imageicon: navigation pathAudiovisions
electrica (Skop)

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types and means of navigation.

Principles like ‹rollover› have spread with the development of formats such as «Flash/Shockwave» and «Beatnik.» Consequently, in the area of net music, [33] artistic projects such as «electrica» have developed which emit acoustic signals to indicate what lies behind a graphic structure. While this kind of audiovisual navigation can function well on art Web sites, in everyday practice the problem arises that sound permanently reaches the ear, while visual stimuli can be selected depending on the direction of vision. This causes signal-like sounds such as the acoustic rollover to quickly become annoying. In addition, earcons are apparently difficult to decipher: Producers of radio jingles point out that in fast-moving, everyday radio, only about fifteen different types of noises (the ringing of a telephone, the jingle of coins, the flushing of a toilet, etc.) can be clearly identified by listeners. The reasons for this poor ability to identify sounds probably lie in the dominance of the visual within Western culture. [34]


The Dominance of the Image

The dominance of the image can be demonstrated using the computer as an example. The computer (and thus the interface to the Internet) is conceived as a text medium with a visual interface. Its era began with the spartan illustration of letters; all one could hear was the irritating hum of the cooling ventilators. The assertion of the graphic user interface on the basis of the intuitively usable desktop metaphor [35] by «Apple Macintosh» in 1984 supported this visual fixation. HTML, the basic code of the World Wide Web, is also text/imageoriented. Hyperlinks are symbolized by highlighted words and images.

The underrepresentation of the acoustic may have also resulted from the low computing performance levels of early PCs; however, it was more a result of the visual dominance of our age: In Western culture a preference for visual perception developed based on writing as the fixation of language. [36] In contrast to hearing, its objects tend to be lasting and quantifiable and thus embody objectivity and truth. Sound, on the

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