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Prix 1987 - 2007

ORF Oberösterreich

Audible Distance
Akitsugu Maebayashi

Three persons are equipped with a head mounted display and a sensor system and enter a dark five-meter square. In this space, their heartbeats are converted into audible pulses and visible globular shapes of computer graphics, and these are the only signals that make the position of another person perceptible. The subjects become aware of space and distance existing between themselves and other persons, not by way of their physical appearance or voice, but in the form of virtual space made visible and audible. This work won a runner-up prize at the ICC Biennale'97 (ICC,Tokyo 1997).

The existence of the word "nearness" indicates that we understand the "perception of distance" in human relations by associating it with physical "distance". In communication, this parameter called "distance" plays an important role both physically and psychologically. However, we usually operate with this parameter unconsciously (we put a relative amount of distance between someone we are coming into contact with for the first time, while in the case of a close friend that distance is reduced); there are not many opportunities for us to turn our attention toward this parameter. This work attempts to address the "distance" between oneself and another, of which one is not normally aware; that is, changes in audiovisual perception that occur in between people. When three visitors constituting a group enter a space, their "presence" will be represented by a 30 pulse sound triggered by each of their heartbeats and a round "area" that flickers according to their heartbeats. These pulse sounds and areas will create phases of various sounds and images, which sometimes approach and sometimes make interventions. In this space, clues such as figures and voices, on which we usually rely to perceive distance, disappear. The visitors must rely only on the "audible distance" and thereby realize the relation between oneself and another as if enjoying a game. The experience that takes place in this space is highly conscious of the "auditory."The between, or changes in the audiovisual perception of distance, inevitably cause the boundaries between the existence of oneself and another to become ambiguous and raise a difficult question: "Where do I end?" and "Where do you begin?"The visitor must listen to the changes in this continuity and realize the relation between oneself and another.