Created by João Costa, Adeus is a sound installation that explores concepts arising from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, whereas the perfect musical system eventually falls out of sync, mirroring the flaws and entropy inherent to human nature.
The piece consists of two metal plates (one brass; one copper) containing musical notation represented by etched dashes. The song is “Valsa de Eurídice” (Eurydice’s Waltz) by Brazilian poet and musician Vinicius de Moraes. The metal plates are“scanned” by an array of sensors that are attached to two linear actuators, one for each plate and controlled by an Arduino Uno. When the system is triggered, both groups of sensors start moving along the plates in sync and play the song, sending MIDI signals to an audio interface that interpret them and outputs sound. Having reached the end of the plates, the sensors will move backwards and start again. However, since the system is assembled by a human, the array of sensors will slowly begin to move out of sync, altering the overall sound that is played.
The whole auditory mechanism will gradually fall into disorder, but due to the system’s idiosyncrasies, it will recover from that entropy and the sensors will eventually get in sync again, only to launch their descent into chaos.
From the moment Orpheus begins his journey back into the mortal world, he is gradually declining into disorder that will culminate with the death of Eurydice. Before this fateful event occurs, however, a liminal space emerges – the moment that precedes his looking back – that Nicolas Bourriaud calls an “interstice.” This small gap in space and time allows for the creation of a domain of exchanges between Orpheus and Eurydice. It is the moment that Orpheus loses beauty, even as he glimpses it, because it is ungraspable (WROE, Ann).
The installation piece is a physical object: a system with a mechanism – similar to that of a music box – that explores the mechanistic and auditory implications of entropy and is, itself, “Orphic”.