Location: Kunsthalle (Budapest), Bunkier Sztuki (Krakow, Poland)
Year: 2014, 2011

Alpha is an installation that asks you to wait.

Concept

Observers are continuously interrupting and reconfiguring systems while monitoring (or even staring at) them. This phenomena is usually associated with the disciplines of science and has a tight relationship with the theories of Schroedinger. Once we start measuring something we are becoming part of its internal process. This can be applied to a wide range of concepts from the field-work of anthropologists to measuring activities of quantum physics etc. The quality of the presence of a human is non-evident: impatient, sudden movements are disturbing the inner process of the installation thus make it harder to investigate. Animation, sounds are altered and “frightened” if any of the mentioned behaviors arise, the slowly evolving process is always returning immediately to its origin: the clean, empty white noise.

alpha from binaura on Vimeo.

Waiting thus becomes a key element of the work. An inverted, upside-down interaction becomes the goal here: calm, patient, slow moving visitors can tune in to the “frequency” of the inner silence of the stones and the sand. Keeping that in mind, observing becomes meditation, the slowly evolving audiovisual composition can be experienced. There is an increasing possibility to interact with the system as it grows. Immediate visual and audible feedbacks strengthen the need & will for playing with the object. Playing can turn into disturbing any time. Waiting is an issue that we try to avoid in our regular routines, if we have to face waiting, we can easily become impatient, stressed, uncomfortable. Alpha is an open process that is dealing with this in-between state of events, too.

Rocks are fading into the background near the final phase of the process, the system then concentrates on the spatial relationship between people. The previous, semi-linear composition turns slowly into a collective instrument made of timeless, oscillating ever-interfering sonic structures. We can then leave the system in this state if we are able to keep our mood while moving away. It collapses and recycling continues on loosing control or a new visitor appears suddenly.

Realization

Alpha is a combination of natural material and new technology. One can see a wooden object that is placed close to the ground, around the height of the human knees. This object is symmetric, can be passed around, there are small stones placed onto the sand on its surface. Shapes, line structures are mapped and projected to the stones and the sand. These are forming the elements of the ongoing generative animation. Sometimes the audible algorithmic sounds are shaping the behaviour and opacity of these. The autonomous, generative parameters are mapped to the movements and the distance of people from the center around. The visible forms are made of basic geometrical elements such as circles, curves, filled contours. They are organized according to distance based algorithms including voronoi diagrams, near-point web connections, path finding algorithms. The sounds are constructed of basic synthesis techniques (frequency and amplitude modulation), analog noise samples, sampled healing bowls.


Technology
Arrange of the visitors is tracked by a Kinect sensor, it can track real three dimensional spatial data instead of regular video cameras. This depth image is then processed by a custom built software which is capable for precise recognition of people around the object. Speed, amount, orientation of visitors are affecting the events. On one hand, these ever-changing coincidences are the basis for the states of the composition, while on the other hand, these are also controlling the smaller time framed parameter fields and variables within the larger scaled states.

The software is made with OpenFrameworks (a free, open source programming environment, a framework for creating interactive visual content with the native power of C++). The sounds are made with Pure Data (visual prototyping environment for generating sounds, sampling algorithmic compositions and interactions). The sound system is embed in the main project via the ofxPd Addon for OpenFrameworks, thus the ending result is a truly dependency free, cross-platform, easy to share and install, native application.

The second, modified version of Alpha has been exhibited at Audio Art Festival, Krakow (PL) 2011
Organized & Curated by Marek Choloniewski

Info on the first version:

Exhibited at Second Relative (Cross)hearings Festival, Artus Contemporary Art Center, Budapest, H (2009)
Curated by Zsolt Sores.





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