Home Australian Sound Design Project
Work

Home | Browse | Search | Previous | Next

Gestation (2000)

Go to Gallery Page Gestation
Related EntriesAudio Visual Gallery
Audience Interactive Installation, Computer-Controlled Installation, Gallery Installation, Temporary Installation and Interactive Installation
Location: RMIT Gallery, Victoria, Australia
By Garth Paine

Details
"In the environment, the participant is confronted with a completely new kind of experience. He is stripped of his informed expectations and forced to deal with the moment in its own terms. He is actively involved, discovering that his limbs have been given new meaning and that he can express himself in new ways. He does not simply admire the work of the artist; he shares in its creation."

Myron W Krueger Responsive Environments 1977

Gestation is an interactive responsive environment and contains two integrated spaces at the RMIT Gallery (“Gallery Two” and “Gallery Three”). One gallery has a surround sound field generated in real time using video sensing equipment (visible to visitors only as a small security video camera in the middle of the roof) that maps the behaviour and movement patterns of the visitors to the exhibition on to real-time audio algorithms providing a tight gestural relationship with their movement and behaviour patterns. No pre-recorded material is used in the generation of the sounds. In the second gallery, a large projected image represents the development of new human life in response to the activity in the first gallery. Imagery represents a sea of life forming cells. An added layer to the underlying sea is the development of new foetuses. Each foetus starts to grow at the point at which the greatest activity is sensed in the first gallery. The aesthetic of the sound environment is a carefully tended, intimately textured sound. It creates a viscous, fluid environment for the “making of life”. The qualities of this sound change in relation to the direction, speed of movement and number of people within the space. In addition, to the underscore sound, more contained points of interest are tied to the creation of each new foetus, and are associated with the position within the gallery space at which that activity is sensed. The growth sounds express the qualities of life forming: the binding of cells, the development of human form, and the growth of the foetus.

Over the last five years Garth Paine has collected ultra-sound videos from friends and acquaintances that have had children. These videos form the basis of the moving images contained within the cells. The cells begin growth at a point in the two-dimensional grid associated with the sensed movement in Gallery Two. The threshold of sensed activity determines the rate of growth and varying rates of growth are associated with thresholds of activity. The system examines activity in Gallery Three on a varying time basis (randomly selected times set by the threshold activity of the previous incident). A snapshot of Gallery Three is taken at these time intervals and this is analysed to determine the point of highest activity. Growth of the foetus begins at this point.

Participants in Gallery Three (the sound gallery) are not be able to see the visual element without leaving the gallery space. They can make life, but not observe it at the same time. The relationship between Galleries Two and Three at the RMIT Gallery is perfect for this exhibition. Gallery Three is a relatively enclosed space in which the sound will be installed: Gallery Two, which is open on one side allows the projector to be set well back, creating a large image, and allowing people easily access to the evolving imagery.

Gallery visitors can easily pop out of Gallery Three and correlate the activity patterns they have just engaged in with the most recent variations in the gestation images. The two galleries are detached to illustrate the hidden outcomes of our activities. This approach also allows the visitors to be more deeply engaged in the details of the sound environment, in the hope that they are more consciously engaged with the fluidity and variability of the sounds.

Technical Specification

The moving images were developed using videos of Ultra-Sound examinations of pregnant woman, which have been collected by Garth Paine over the last few years. These moving foetus images have been digitised and placed within a varying background that suggests the Ultra-Sound aesthetic (see gallery images). The imagery was constructed using Macromedia Director. The position, and growth patterns of the foetuses are controlled using MIDI communication from the sound and video sensing computer.

The video sensing of activity within the sounding gallery was achieved using the Very Nervous System (VNS) and a single CCT video camera in the roof of the gallery. The VNS is a self-contained digital signal processor that is controlled from a Macintosh computer over a SCSI connection. Software to analyse the VNS data was written in Cycling74's MAX environment. The output of this software (an integer array: one number per defined region) was sent as MIDI information to a Symbolic Sound, Capybara/Kyma sound synthesis system, which is a high-end audio DSP/synthesis device. The sound from the Capybara was dispersed into the gallery in four channels.

Garth Paine has used the VNS sensing system since 1996. He has developed a number of innovative approaches to the use of this video sensing equipment. Previous examples of his use of this system, combined with realtime sound synthesis can be seen in his installation pieces MAP1 and MAP2.

Kathryn Mew developed the Macromedia Director application for Gestation. Kathryn is an experienced graphic designer, animator and Director developer. She developed the working image, and has been involved for some time in the project development.

 
Related Entries for Gestation

Artist

Site

Works by Same Artist

Top of Page

Google
Prepared by: Iain Mott
Created: 2 October 2002
Modified: 11 November 2003

Published by The University of Melbourne
Comments, questions, corrections and additions: i.mott@unimelb.edu.au
Prepared by: Acknowledgements
Updated: 18 January 2007
http://www.sounddesign.unimelb.edu.au/web/biogs/P000345b.htm

[ Top of page | Australian Sound Design Project Home | Browse | Search ]