I’ve completely re-thought the sound over the last couple of days. I didn’t develop it at all in London as we focused on the core logistics of getting four portals working, so as the piece started to take shape the sound didn’t really keep up.
One of the key things we developed in London was the way in which users can be creative in the space, and we ended up with two paradigms – ‘shadows’ (we called them ‘sculptures’ in London, but shadows makes more sense given the title of the piece) and ‘traces’ (‘trails’ in London, but I think traces sounds better). The former is long term, and full-body – regular imprints users leave in the space. The latter is short-term, and involves the particles left behind by the key points of the body (which we first developed in Istanbul).
Only the latter has been sonified so far, making a bit of a disconnect between sound and image. I’ve also realised that the shadows potentially have more audio, and audiovisual potential. If the shadows get left at regular intervals (but different intervals for each user), and these have corresponding audio events, then some nice polyrhythms can be produced. These would be more sonically interesting that the signification of the particle traces, which are so numerous that they tend to produce overly-dense sounds, which just blend into sonic soup. They could also provide cues to the users as to when the shadows will be created, and – being more clearly identifiable, could even help with the navigation.
This sound is a first attempt at what this might sound like at this point. Of course, it’s slightly meaningless without the visual element (so far!), but it’s an attempt to ‘compose the soundtrack’. The high ringing sounds represent the shadows, on regular cycles corresponding to a 4:5:6:7 ratio. The tinkly/rustly (those are technical terms) represent the traces. The low pulse and short high rhythmic sounds are global, and are a byproduct of the 4:5:6:7 polyrhythm. They’d be spatially attached to the light at the centre of the space I think, or possibly ubiquitous throughout the space.
Phill has been walking around with furrowed brow today. He’s been spending a lot of time scribbling diagrams; staring at boxes, and chairs, and boxes on top of chairs. I’m a bit worried about him.
What’s been vexing him is the particularly knarly problem of combining data from several Kinects. A few people have used multiple Kinects, but I haven’t seen much work where the Kinects are actually pointed at the same thing (or box, or chair, or person). The problem is that many points will actually be seen by both (eventually all three) cameras, so combining the two sets of data requires a kind of 3D jigsaw-puzzle thinking that hurts. For the full technical detail on this see Phill’s own blog.
On a more satisfying note – I think we’ve cracked the problem we had with the navigation in London. This proved so tricky and sensitive that even highly trained dancers had trouble with it. I’m happy to say that we’ve made a lot of progress on this over the last couple of days – it’s now much smoother and ‘steadier’ somehow, and can be easily adjusted to calibrate the sensitivity. We won’t know for sure until next week when we try it out with a few more people, but I’m hopeful it’s sorted now.
So.. having said we’d focus on the aesthetics this time, we do seem to have spent a bit of time here in Mons on technical issues. They’re kind of big though, and do impact on the aesthetics to a certain extent. It seemed crazy not to deal with them while we had a bit of time. In the meantime I have been making great strides with the sound – more v. soon.
This marks the beginning of the third MADE me and my shadow residency in Mons, Belgium – hosted by Transcultures. Phill and I arrived last night, and this morning Lucie from Transcultures took us to where we’ll be working for the next couple of weeks. We’re in the architecture department at the University of Mons, working in the Salle du Bélian exhibition space, an old chapel. We’ve had an amazing variety of places to work on the project – quite inspiring!
For this residency, we’ll be focusing primarily on the aesthetics of me and my shadow, both sonic and visual. We’ll also be building the first actual portal installation, which I’m very excited about. I’ll keep you posted…