‘Signal To Noise’ is the latest installation by LAb[au], immersing the spectator in patterns of sonic motion produced by 512 recycled mechanical split-flaps.
The expression ‘signal-to-noise’ is a measure used to quantify how much a signal has been lost to noise; it’s a ratio of useful to un-useful information in a data exchange. The circular installation invites the visitor to plunge into a kinetic composition in the midst of the eternal calculation process of an auto-poetic machine. The split-flaps are constantly spinning on a variable speed/rhythm which is dependant upon on the underlying algorithm, analyzing in the maze of information the appearance of a word-equals-meaning.
The works consists of a circular structure, containing 4 horizontal rows of 128 split-flaps at eye height. It is an interesting hybrid between digital and analog technology based on mechanics, visual and sonic characteristics that have been carved in our memory – train stations and airports. It is sad that these displays once covered entire walls of train stations and airports have nowadays almost entirely disappeared from public space – replaced with much cheaper LED displays. By pure accident in January 2011, LAb[au] had the opportunity to recuperate a stock of old split-flaps coming from Bruges’ train-station which had been stocked for several years in Ghent. The team now own a big stock of split-flaps after having spent months restoring them.
Today, 512 of these split-flaps sit at eye height at Pearson International Airport, Toronto. The signal is the silence and noise being the one of the (rotating) split-flaps communicate the ratio of useful information to false or irrelevant data in a conversation or a data exchange. The split-flaps are constantly spinning but on a variable speed/rhythm depending on the processing limitations of the underlying algorithm, analyzing in the maze of information. Once a word has been recognized the corresponding split-flaps, those characters stand still for several iterations. The circular installation invites the visitor to plunge into an audio-visual composition right in the center of a calculation process of an auto-poetic machine.
‘Signal to Noise’ will be exhibited at Pearson International Airport, Toronto, June 8th – Must see!
- M0za1que – Kinetic light art installation by LAb[au] Created by LAb[au], Moza1que (French word for mosaic) is a permanent artwork for ‘La Maison Mécatronique’ in Annecy-Le-Vieux, France. The main wall of the entrance hall 3.4m x 6m is divided in 26x15 squares, each motorised by a linear actuator with a range of 10cm. The individual control of the motion creates different three-dimensional reliefs of geometric patterns evolving following the logics of cellular automata. The resulting mosaic can be compared to the electro-magnetic functioning of a memory slot in computation logics. The-so called 'place holder', having here the size of the matrix of tiles, can be filled with binary data and where this magnetic action leads in the installation also to physical motion. Information emerges not only out of the binary state but out of the relative position of the tile in the matrix. What in terms of computer logics is referred to as sequential data becomes here spatial data. In front of the wall the installation also includes an array of LED rails mounted on the ceiling to project white light over the wall combining its primary colours; red green and blue. The distant positioning of the 3 colored light sources interrupts one or two of the RGB light beams which leads to colored instead of black shadows on their outlines. The installation evolves using the pattern of "game of life", a simple mathematical simulation of life and evolution in which "cells" live or die following principally rules of vicinity. Project Page […]
- Tessel – the details [Objects, c++] Last week we posted about the new installation by David Letellier and Lab [au] for their gallery in Brussels. Now we have some great new details, supplied by Jerome Decock of Lab[au]. The installation was inspired by the notion of "tessellation", a term applied to the geometric subdivision of a surface into plane units. It includes a suspended topography of 4 x 2 m, subdivided into forty triangular mirrors equipped with audio transducers, transforming the surface into a dynamic sonic space. The installation is divided into two parts: an aluminium frame/case which holds all the technical gear and a folding tessellated surface. The aluminum case counts 12 (nema 23) stepper motors fitted with spools and encoders (avago optical incremental encoders), fed by 48V DC transformers. These are controlled and watched by 3 parallax propeller microcontrollers (parallax USB proto boards), each one opening a serial port to a mini-itx atom computer fitted with an 8 channels soundcard. Firmware is written in Spin (parallax high level language) and assembly. The computer runs custom Basic/C++ software which takes care mainly of computing positions, adapting acceleration/deceleration ramps to morph from one position to the next and synchronizing motion with multi channel sound. There are also two Audio 700Watts 4 channels car amplifiers in there. The surface hangs on 12 pulleys with a pre-constrained nylon 1mm cable passing thru. On 8 triangles, the 4 corner ones and 4 in the middle, there are sound transducers; these are basically speakers without the cone, transmitting vibration to the surface itself. Sound is thus produced by the vibrating metallic triangles. These triangles are made of a sandwich of 2 Dibond sheets (a sandwich in itself with a foam core and aluminium sheets) and rubber sheet. The Dibond triangles have been laser cutted prior to assembly. The sandwich is glued with washers making contact in between the 2 Dibond sheets, through a hole cutted in the rubber. The transducers are fitted in holes to make contact with the last aluminium layer. The surface is constituted of 3 parts, embedded rivets and overlaps allowing reassembly. The attached scheme shows the 12 suspension points (motors) and the 8 transducers positions. The screenshot shows the main GUI control interface, the xml file holding “key positions” and settings, and some lines of the firmware/spin program. The exhibition runs until December 6, 2010. From Sunday to Thursday between 16h and 21h in the media room, Laekensestraat 104, 1000 Brussels. Read more at mediaruimte.be. Video by Niels Wouters Previously on CAN: Framework f5x5x5 […]
- Versus [c++, Objects] Versus is the latest installation David Letellier, combining the robot mechanics with David's long time area of exploration - kinetic sound installations, beautifully made. Previously collaborated with Lab[au] on Tessel (see detailed post on CAN), Versus consisting of two kinetic sculptures placed face to face in a space. Each sculpture is made out of 12 triangular panels, hinged and powered by six linear actuators, controlled by a custom software. At the center of each corolla, a loudspeaker and a microphone allow to play and record sounds. At regular intervals, each sculpture produces a sound, simultaneously recorded and analyzed by the opposite sculpture, which then moves according to the frequencies of this sound. Like a feedback loop, it then plays back the recorded sound, with the errors and disturbances caused by the reverberating space and the visitors. By intervening in this conversation, the viewer becomes an actor, as he degrades the communication by his presence and the noises he produces. As the panels move back and forth at a pace determined by the environmental sound, they create a non-immediate interaction, where the imperfections of reproduction are becoming creative elements. The original sound is continuously transformed, and becomes something entirely new and unpredictable. The memory of past events is hold for a moment, until it’s reproduced, degraded, and then forgotten, replaced by the present. More work available […]
- Tessel [Objects, Events] Tessel is a collaboration between David Letellier and Lab [au], a Brussels based transdisciplinary studio.The kinetic installation investigates the perception of sound and space, inspired by the notion of "tessellation", a term applied to the geometric subdivision of a surface into plane units. Tessellation has been applied throughout history from ancient to modern times, from two to n-dimensional configurations and merges science and art through mathematics. Here Tessel is based on the ‘pinwheel pattern’, a non-periodic tiling coined by mathematicians Charles Radin and John Conway, which allows the creation of an infinitely complex geometry constructed with a simple single "seed": a right triangle. Here, the pinwheel pattern is transformed, folded and transposed to the third dimension. The installation includes suspended topography of 4 x 2 m, subdivided into forty triangular mirrors (using the ' Pinwheel Tiling method). Twelve triangles are fitted with motors and eight triangles are equipped with audio transducers, which transform the surface into a dynamic sonic space. A dialogue between space and sound is created as the surface slowly modifies its shape, our perception of it altered through continuously changing light and sound reflection. Read more at mediaruimte.be and nielswouters.be/tessel (in Dutch). The exhibition runs until December 6, 2010. From Sunday to Thursday between 16h and 21h in the media room, Laekensestraat 104, 1000 Brussels. Tessel is a co-production of the galleries MediaRuimte (Brussels) and Roger Tator (Lyon), Realized with the financial support of - Arcadi - Commission des Arts Numériques de la Communauté Française de Belgique Filmed by Niels Wouter Previously on CAN: Framework f5x5x5 [Environment] 02/12/2011: Updated images and new […]
- Voice Array and Last Breath by Rafeal Lozano-Hemmer Rafeal Lozano-Hemmer is largely known for his large scale installations that invite audience participation. An extension of this participation is also how he takes elements of physical interaction and gives them digital or technological corollaries. His latest show at Bitforms Gallery is no different. Although, ironically, rather than taking something inherently physical, it takes the more ephemeral qualities of the human body and extends their lifespan. Last Breath and Voice Array take the voice and breath, respectively, and 'show' them, vis a vis a physical installation. For example, Last Breath is a clinically alienesque device pumping the single breath of an individual in an out of a brown paper bag through a series of hanging tubes. It is activated 10,000 times a day to mimic the respiratory frequency of an adult at rest and also includes 158 sighs. Of course it is not a perfect facsimile of this process insofar that it is the same breath continually breathed over and over again. Rather than truly represent the process of breathing over the course of a single day it extends the life of a single breath by breathing it in and out of a physical object. The brown paper bag that it is breathed into becomes a representation of the breath itself while the installation it is connected to enables its continued existence. A single breath is normally expelled and is gone forever, but this machine allows something inherently fleeting to last for as long as the operator of the installation wishes. Rather than simulate the 10,000 unique breaths in a series it uses one breath to represent each through its repetition. Similarly, Voice Array takes the human voice and translates it into a horizontal series of flashing lights. Spectators speak into an intercom and their voices are transformed into shards of spiking light that travel down the wall. In all, it can hold up to 288 voices that accumulate and flash together on the installation. The cumulative sound of all the voices together creates a layering affect as well. The voices continue to exist as something separate from the body but contained within the installation. The Voice Array, like the brown paper bag of Last Breath, contains the voices of the participants extending their lifespan beyond the original utterance. The vocal cacophony is like a sampling of voices culminating into music. To that point, as part of the opening, the gallery had invited legendary beatboxer and member of the Roots, Rahzel to perform into the Voice Array. Rahzel is able to produce several sounds at once that mimic actual music to startling effect. When he began using the Voice Array it became an extension of his own voice and he transformed it into a kind of audiovisual musical instrument. As he played with the installation it was as if he was sampling himself and listening to the interplay between the sounds he was feeding into it and his own voice. It then created a feedback loop wherein he would modify how he would beat box into it while he watched and listened to the installation. Both installations take something that humans do that doesn't necessarily have a perceivable shape and imposes one upon it so as to make it controllable. We can extend the life of something that should not last longer than a moment by way of supplemental technologies. A breath can last forever even beyond the lifespan of an individual as contained within an object. Even one voice can be come an entire choir by way of an intercom and a physical installation. While the lights of Voice Array may not last as long as the breath of Last Breath in each the effect is largely the same. Something that passes by so quickly we don't give it a thought is given a new perceivable existence that augments our perception of it. In doing so we are given more mastery over its form and duration. The show is on display at Bitforms Gallery in New York City through October 13th. Rafael […]
- The Global Pursuit of Happiness – Boris Petrovsky’s army of 520 Lucky Cats Is there such a thing as too much luck? Boris Petrovsky's installation The Army of Luck that recently premiered at Art Karlsruhe 2012 leaves you with no less than 520 waving Maneki Neko (=lucky) cats to find out. Mounted on a massive 8m wide and 3m high altar and operating like a 520 pixel cat-matrix, Petrovsky's hauntingly happy army parades a variety of arm gestures (political, military or casual) and – like a giant golden mirror – echoes up to 40 character confessions dropped into a wish box. "Ever since my girlfriend brought back a tiny Maneki Neko (jap., literally for Beckoning Cat, Lucky Cat or Money Cat) from Thailand I was fascinated with their role as a popular mass product, fetish object and lucky charm," the media artist from Constance, Germany, tells CAN. "It strikes me as a powerful metaphor for The Global Pursuit of Happiness (as the piece is also titled) in times of cognitive capitalism and an absolute, self-propelling cycle of mass production. Also, I wanted to expand my work with various matrix systems (mostly lights, letters and objects) into kinetics." Compared to his previous installations (one of which won the artist an honorary mention in the 'interactive arts' category at Prix Ars Electronica 2010) Petrovsky's The Army of Luck takes the matrix idea very literal: each Maneki Neko cat represents a "pixel" that can be turned on or off individually by raising or lowering its arm, effectively turning the installation into a communication device. "The servomotor inside each unit has its own DMX channel, which allows for very precise control over the position and pace of the 520 arms," says Georg Nagel, the programmer behind Petrovsky's matrix works in an email. The DMX channel gets control signals via an OLA interface using custom Python code based on PyGObject (GObject introspection). "That way we are able to change the angle of each arm gradually between 0 to 180 degrees, creating a mechanical low-res dot matrix sufficient enough for simple patterns and scrolling text." Your concept of happiness is our lucky command. Write it on the keyboard, visitors are invited. In order to translate text input into actual cat pixels each message entered by the audience is broken up into its individual letters and matched with a character library. "The letter patterns are then queued up (including the configurable space in between them) and displayed via rattling arm movements," says Georg. If not given any input Petrovich's Army of Luck will perform one of 25 different pre-installed behaviours. A surprising variety of one-armed gestures – military salutes, Mexican waves, knock-on-woods or ecstatic "hyperkinesis" – is accompanied by randomly selected sound samples taken from political speeches, military parades or the sport events from as far back as a century ago. It's exactly these eerie historical references, when this lifeless army of golden cats salute in unison to the sounds of politically charged propaganda and mass hysteria when Petrovsky’s Global Pursuit of Happiness becomes most effective. Not only does it challenge our definition of happiness, it makes us slightly uncomfortable – righfully so. Follow Boris Petrovsky via Petrovsky.de | […]
- Shedding Light on Squidsoup – A Conversation with Anthony Rowe For more than a decade, the artist collective Squidsoup have been designing rich interactive experiences. From their early navigable sonic environments, through their playful experiments with computer vision and interest in 'volumetric visualizations', an email exchange between Squidsoup's Anthony Rowe and CAN begat a mammoth interview abound light, sound and many of the collective's […]
- Zimoun: Volume – 294 prepared dc-motors, cork balls and cardboard boxes Zimoun's kinetic sound installations hardly need introduction. Ever since the immaculate documentation of his work first surfaced a couple of years ago, the Swiss artist's elegant mass assemblies of mechanical dc-motors, wires, tubes and cardboard and the complex sound textures they generate have been subject of numerous international exhibitions and a lot more glowing reviews. Lofty descriptions however can't quite capture the immersive quality of Zimoun's installations, you have to experience them for yourself – if you are in the New York area between now and March 10th, you still can. Volume, Zimoun's first solo exhibition in New York, is curated by Laura Blereau and Steven Sacks and currently on view at bitforms, a gallery located in the Chelsea neighborhood of Manhattan. Exploring the intersection of art and technology for more than a decade bitforms represents some of the most influential practitioners today. One of them: Zimoun. 294 prepared dc-motors, cork balls, cardboard boxes 41x41x41cm, Volume's centerpiece, is part of Zimoun's current series of installations involving prepared dc-motors and cardboard boxes. And like most of the previous iterations it is site-specific: "Based on the size of the gallery I decided to build a space within a space," Zimoun tells CAN in an email (while already setting up his next installation at the Nam June Paik Art Center in Seoul, South Korea). "You can walk around it as well as enter it through an entrance. The sound experience changes along the way." The massive sound chamber that fills the gallery almost entirely is constructed out of 294 of Zimoun's prepared cardboard boxes, each being slightly displaced. "The pattern emerged naturally when I built the structure. An intentional play of chance and balance, if you will." Each box unit has a dc-motor with a wire attached. Instead of the ping-pong ball that was fixed to the end of each wire in other set-ups Zimoun now has a ball of cork drum against the cardboard. "A very homogeneous combination," he says. "The cork balls are very light and they sound a lot softer." The strength of Zimoun's work is not only the striking combination of aesthetic clarity, material simplicity and acoustic complexity. It is the sparks of individuality that flare within a stringent grid of countless identical components in monotonous motion. While all the cardboard boxes are of the same size and the motors of the same kind, the subtle variations in length and angle of the attached wires results in a wide range of individual behaviours and sound signatures. "Each motor does its own thing," says Zimoun. "And together they generate a dynamic sound of exquisite intricacy from what is essentially a very simple system." Go see it! Go hear it! Volume can be viewed at bitforms gallery (529 West 20th Street, 2nd floor, Chelsea, Manhattan) until March 10th. For the duration of the show, the gallery’s project room on the 6th floor also features four mechanical works by the artist and a video. Follow Zimoun via zimoun.ch | Facebook | […]
Posted on: 24/05/2012
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