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Prix 1987 - 2007

Ars Electronica Linz & ORF Oberösterreich

double helix swing
Ursula Damm

double helix swing is an installation for midges and humans. It has two parts: a speciallyconstructed surveillance camera which passersby can use to observe swarms of midges at the bank of a river. The second part consists of a projection on a pedestal with a screen by which a virtual world, based on the video recorded at the riverbank, can be operated and controlled.

The video camera enables them to look for swarms of midges in the sky and to record them. Five loudspeakers, positioned around the video camera, play the sounds made by female midges. These sounds attract swarms of male midges in front of the camera. In addition to the camera and loudspeakers, there is a switch on which a number of sounds can be selected for the loudspeakers. On the one hand, the attempt is made to actually attract midges using specific buzzing sounds. In the video camera head is a transmitter module which sends the recorded video sequences via a receiver to a computer in an adjacent building.

The second part of the installation consists of a console and a large projection, controlled by two computers. Each computer receives videos from the camera positioned at the riverbank and allows them to be accessed via a selection menu on the console. The midges’ food can be seen as paths of movement in the videos. The sound recordings playing at the riverbank also serve as feedback. If there is too little food, then the sound of female midges’ wings beating is used to attract swarms of midges in front of the camera. Creatures evolve into different shapes. The specific shape of each creature is determined by a gene. The shapes of these virtual types are tried out in a process of evolutionary inheritance of individual shapes and characteristics.

Concept: Ursula Damm; Programming: Christian Kessler; Sound: Yunchul Kim; Construction & programming of the camera: Alexander Holtkamp, Gwendolin Taube, Lars Vaupel