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Interactive Installations : Dark Matter (2010, revised 2015)

commissioned by Wood Street Galleries
2015 version produced with financial assistance from the Ontario Arts Council and the Canada Council for the Arts

Dark Matter at Wood Street Galleries"

Dark Matter: The darkened gallery space is dominated by an invisible sculpture of silent sound. Your body probes the space listening for the sculpture's spatial form to be expressed though the sounds of your contact with its immaterial presence.

Original Version (Wood Street Galleries):
Infrared sensitive video cameras survey the darkened gallery from 4 angles. These cameras carve up the space into thousands of 3 dimensional zones. A selection of these zones have been attributed sound behaviours. Together, these interactive zones define a complex physical but invisible form in the gallery space. A computer cross-references the data from the cameras to work out which zones are experiencing the greatest physical activity at any given moment and plays the sounds linked to those zones through an 8-channel sound system, distributing the sounds through the space in relation to the locations of the physical stimuli.

The sounds are all very physical: breaking ice and breaking glass, creaking metal, falling rocks, bursts of flame. They were "painted" into the space by hand. Starting with an empty space, the artist placed the sounds in the space by selecting a sound then waving his hand in a particular area to locate the sound in a particular cubic foot of space; the interactive sculpture of sound was defined in space by hand.

2015 Version (Beall Centre):
The original version was produced just before the Kinect depth sensor was announced. It felt almost like I had dreamt of the kinect when producing the original. In this newer version, four Kinect depth sensors point down from the ceiling. These sensors locate movement in 3 dimensions, rather more precisely than the original system of cameras. A broader palette of sounds was used in this version to conjure narrative provocations. The sounds proposed fragments of stories. The interactive audio mixing was also enhanced, providing an other-worldly sonic experience. The mix tracked you, and, coupled with effects of the darkness, this lead to a fascinating sense of complete spatial disorientation as though while you walked through the space, you went nowhere at all.



"Audio Space", Wood Street Galleries, Pittsburgh, USA.

"RAM", The Museum, Kitchener, Ontario.

"A Play in Three Acts", Beall Centre for Art + Technology, UC Irvine, Irvine, California
device_art Festival, Zagreb, Croatia
"The Age of Catastrophe", Actual Art Gallery, Winnipeg, Canada

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Copyright 2010 David Rokeby / very nervous systems / All rights reserved. 11/24/10