Guest post by Eliot Van Buskirk of Evolver.fm.
Music apps are for everybody to touch. Art installations are usually for nobody to touch, but not this time.
“Center of Attention” (video below), on display last week in Los Angeles, presents a collection of cables hanging from a ceiling, which visitors could touch, twist, and connect to trigger all sorts of fascinating sounds. They can also touch each other, forging a body-to-body connection and altering the sound further.
This is the work of Luke Fischbeck, whose main musical project is Lucky Dragons (remix below). He created “Center of Attention” at Sonos Studio, “an acoustically-designed gallery in the heart of Los Angeles that celebrates music listening,” run by the same company that makes those neat digital-music-for-the-home systems.
“Although it has elements of a live performance and it engages people and asks people to come interact with it and cooperate together, it’s really just an extension of the space itself,” says Fischbeck in the video below. “It’s a chance to respond to that kind of dual nature of connectivity — that it’s both something that is happening with the players streaming the sound, and it’s happening with people coming here and experiencing performances together.”
Here’s the video:
I’ve witnessed Fischbeck’s work before, at shows where the audience members are encouraged to grab a cable, and then extend the connection to other audience members through their bodies, altering the sound that everyone hears. Here’s how the system works, according to CoolHunting’s interview:
“Each of the conductive ropes carries its own signal, a tuned circuit at an individual frequency,” explained Fischbeck. “When you touch a rope you carry that tuned signal on your skin—touching another rope, or another person who’s also touching a rope, will combine signals, creating combinations of frequencies that are turned into sound by the software. Different kinds of touch, from gentle tickles to full grasps, affect how much of each signal is combined, meaning that each point of contact contributes to the overall sound.”