Edwin van der Heide, Marnix de Nijs
Spatial Sounds is a purely interactive installation. It’s constantly scanning the space for visitors to communicate with.
Spatial Sounds contains two sensors: One Polaroid ultrasonic distance measurement sensor with self developed software and hardware based on a microcontroller. It generates midi output. The sensor is mounted on top of the speaker. It measures the distance of objects in front of the speaker up to 7 meters.
One biphase angle measurement sensor with self developed software and hardware based on a microcontroller. It generates midi output. The sensor is mounted on the bottom of the axis. It outputs the current position of the arm in steps of 3 degrees. The information of the sensors is communicated via midi to a Macintosh computer. The computer runs self developed interaction software created within MAX/MSP. The software generates the sound in real-time. The software controls a triphase motorcontroller via a midi to voltage converter. The motorcontroller controls the speed and the direction of the motor. The software controls a lightdesk to change the light settings and incidentally switch on a stroboscope.
It’s essential for Spatial Sounds to be able to distinguish the visitors in the space from the space itself. Every time the installation is set up in a new space, the installation first has to learn the shape of the space. This is done in the following way:
The interaction of Spatial Sounds is continuously changing. When there are no people in the space, it becomes very quiet in terms of both movement and sound. The arm slowly spins in one direction waiting for people to enter. The installation shows that it detects the visitor(s) by playing a soft sub-low sound. The installation wants to be sure that the visitor is staying and waits until it detects it/them again. Then it starts to become more active. The timbre of the sound depends on the distance the person has to the speaker. The visitor is invited to become a participant. The movement of the installation is fully based on where people stand. The installation can follow and/or swing around the participant. It can also deal with multiple people. When there are multiple people, they can really interact together. If people are not very active (if they stay in the same place all the time), the installation will start to ignore them after a certain period. The more you play with the installation, the more active it becomes. However, the installation can get out of control or overexcited.