Configuration (2015)

Installation for a ship hull. 9-channels sound, 3-channels video, light and scent. Gallery NOASS Riga, May 2015. Supported by the Regional Government of Styria, the Austrian Embassy in Latvia and the Latvian Ministry of Culture.

‘Configuration’ is a site-specific sound and video installation built for the ship Betanovuss. Three things come together here. Firstly, a peculiar side effect of my recent works is that they develop also a material-visual language, often through the necessity to understand algorithms. As these visual elements configurate the way I am thinking and conceiving sound structures, I wanted to explore the possibility to give them their own presence. Secondly, I am experimenting since a while with the genetic programming of sounds. The computer approximates a given sound through a network of code elements. A process is instantiated this way, where series are produced that are characterised by close relationships among them and by the particular constraints of the programming language elements. What is interesting is the incomputability of the target sound that becomes subordinate to a differential motion of the algorithm itself. Thirdly, these formal elements are triggered by and rendered through the specific space, the layout and atmosphere, the objects found in situ.

The predominant materials found in the ship are concrete and metal, often textured and corroded. Transducers are attached to the two metal stairs that lead into and out of the hull, on two metal doors and five metal sheets that are placed horizontally across the thresholds embedded in the floor and inside an aperture in a wall. A real-time process generates a swarm of particles that traverse a space of timbre and rhythm, producing ever-changing colours, densities and spatial constellations of sound. The sounds have been obtained through an iterative genetic algorithm that tries to rebuild existing sounds from the ship with a set of synthetic sound structures.

When entering the space, one finds oneself in the first of four parcels, illuminated by six bull’s eyes, the light tinted with a faint orange filter, interfering with strips of blueish light that enters from the deck. One notices the smell of cocoa emanated from shells that have been spread out to the left of the wooden pathway that leads through the ship. As one traverses this path, the configuration of close and remote sounds changes. The last parcel is characterised by an absence of windows and the presence of three video screens on the floor. The left shows an abstract moving structure, a time-reversed interpretation of the genetic programming process. The middle screen shows two scenes from Riga, a magnetic tape trapped in the branches of a tree and animated by the wind, and the constant flow of water as observed through the bull’s eye of the first room. The right video shows two texts entangled in an algorithmic layout process related to the system used in the first video. The text re-enters some elements of the installation.

Configuration (room recording; use headphones at moderate level)

Futher Reading

The artistic process is exposed through the Research Catalogue.