Presented as part of CODE Live 1 and located in one of the creative exhibition spaces at the Centre for Digital Media, Great Northern Way Campus, PLAY: The Hertzian Collective is a musical sound sculpture created with projected video images and controlled collectively by viewers with their mobile phones. Viewers receive instructions on how to play by dialling a toll free phone number, and by pressing buttons on their keypads, which enable them to take control of different parts of the action.
In a phrase coined by the artist, The Hertzian Collective refers to the intersections that are possible when the musical tones and radio frequencies (both measured in hertz) that underpin this artwork are controlled or played by the ad hoc collective of individuals who happen to be standing in front of it at a given moment, cell phones in hand.
Inviting and participatory, the work encourages viewers to play with it. Visual and sound rhythms and sequences are created by the players and exploration quickly gives way to jamming and collaboration as each person realizes that they are sharing the creation of this interactive artwork with other viewers standing nearby. Structured like a primitive musical instrument or an elaborate clockwork toy.
A tiny character struggles to relay a poetic text from a wall mounted video display. Speaking of hope and despair, she is overwhelmed by the static emanating from a nearby, rotating radar antenna. It scrambles her signal and garbles her train of thought.
‘She poured her energy into the cracks and crevices that surround a life…’
‘He spread his sharp brittle soul thinly, in every direction till he blended into the world…’
‘He said: I’m working for pay and for pride and for you in fields we’ll harvest tomorrow…’
‘The phone rings twenty-five times, grating on her nerves. At the other end, the caller sinks in desperation….’
Cell Phone Xylophone was originally developed as part of PORTAGE, an artist and designer driven research project, led by Geoffrey Shea and Paula Gardner in the Mobile Experience Lab. It allows participants using a simple cell phone to control and play a networked, mechanical instrument. Created with Rob King, Ken Leung, Peter Todd, Leighanne Pahapill, Patricio Davila and Jennie Ziemiannin.
Viewers simply dial a toll free number and are then prompted to enter key presses. The patterns they enter correspond to arpeggios and loop several times. Their phone connects to a VOIP service which delivers their key presses to an Asterisk server which relays them to the control machine wired up to the xylophones custom controller board. This version was presented at MobileFest in Sao Paolo, Brazil. See more at www.mobilelab.ca.
I’ve been developing the code for an xbee mesh network to support this large, outdoor audio installation. The tricky bits were getting Arduino Waveshields to accept remote commands, and getting users’ GPS data into the system. So I thought I’d share what I learned on Git-Hub to make it easier for the next artist trying this:
Gigi Minor, a loose collective of artists based in Durham, Ontario, invited four accomplished filmmakers (Philip Hoffman, Ilse Gassinger, Iriz Pääbo and Myke Dyer) to make works which visually interpreted four of our their songs. Gigi Minor has performed the music live with the films at film festivals in Ontario and created a DVD / CD version.
The musicians are Geoffrey Shea and Philly Markowitz as well as Paul Nielsen, Gillian Inksetter, Randy Martin, Robin Rich and Chris Risk.