European Mobile Lab for Interactive Artists

Artists: Cliona Harmey, Christine Mackey, Lorraine Walsh, Lei Han, Nita Tandon

Type of project: Interactive sculpture with touch sensors that triggers sounds and text animation

Dimensions: 4.5m (length) x 4,5m (width) x 4m (height)

Materials: A series of touch sensors at the end of long sculptural cables, headphones, projector, scaffolding, computer and all accompanying software and hardware including 1 x icubex microdig usb interface device

SOUND-LINES is an interactive sculpture composed of a series of touch sensors that trigger a soundscape and associated phrases, which were previously recorded and notated from various environments. The project invites the viewer to engage in a playful exploration of shifting perspectives and perceptual discovery.

Key to SOUND-LINES is the consideration of interactive new media as a reflection and recombinant mode of historic interfaces. This project investigates how records, in this case recorded sound and identifying words, are at the core of humanistic understanding. The collaborating artists record sounds, creating a database for the interactive sculpture. This can be seen as an observation of how cultures throughout history have devised tools and databases to collect and preserve their heritage. As succinctly stated by Lisa Gitelman in Always Already New: ”Cultures save themselves.” [1]

Cultures continue to save, record and archive, while technology enables us to create more than just new tools. By their very nature, our new media tools open ways of thinking with multisensory interfaces. It is this hands-on engagement with technology, and a humanization of technology that bring to consciousness new perspectives and frames of reference.

A specific historical artifact that inspires SOUND-LINES is the Quipu (an 13th century Incan device used for recording data). Sometimes called “talking knots,” the Quipu was essentially a database. The Quipu has yet to be fully deciphered. One theory is that it was used to store information such as the amount of crops, livestock, or stored provisions for the Inca society. The cords also have numeric values encoded by knots. A Quipu was essentially one main cord with more cords or strands attached. This cord could contain a few strands or as many as 2,000 strands/lines.

The SOUND-LINES installation is a sculpture with a series of cables that emanate from a sculptural structure which contains a screen. At the end of each cable is a tag with a touch sensor. The viewer is invited to touch the sensor, which triggers a sound and a series of associated text/word(s). The words/sounds triggered by the viewer will be displayed on an accompanying screen and will, over time, evolve into lines. Therefore, if the sensors are not engaged for an hour, the viewer will see a series of lines on the screen.

[1]. Gitelman, Lisa. Always Already New: Media, History, and the Data of Culture. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2008. P xii.

Contact artist: Lorraine Walsh (lw@lorrainewalsh.com)


Jeremy Bernstein, Elliot Sinyor


Project images
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