I was asked to propose a work for a multi-room silent event.
I wanted to explore how the idea of the Reactable could be transposed onto human interactions. How could human bodies in space be harnessed to act as components of a system for sound synthesis? I explored ideas of sensors strapped to bodies that could react and modify sound depending on any number of mapped parameters – GPS co-ordinates, proximity, bodies facing one another as opposed to being off-axis, rotation, tilt, pitch and yaw. I quickly realised that this was way too big an undertaking for the moment and so bit off a much smaller chunk for investigation.
Audience members were given no instructions upon entering the room. The entire event was silent other than what was heard through the silent disco headphones (which glowed either one of three colours depending on the channel they were tuned into). Speaking was prohibited.
The lighting (emanating solely from the projector) was dim and static. A low tone played. Fluoro mark-up tape divided the region around the sensor into sextants, roughly representing the areas of sensitivity which extended out 2.5m from the housing. Eventually more curios members of the audience stepped closer and detected a level of causation between their movement towards this strange entity in the centre of the room and the rising frequency of the tone (the initial state of the Ableton set was this simple theremin. Once audience members used this to make the connection between proximity and effect on sound I introduced more complex and harmonic elements of the set).