The player stands between the Hypotenuses of two Pythagorean triangles, under an arch containing speakers. The loop creator is immersed in the sound of her loops, from above and below. The participant’s figure is framed in a circular opening, a reference both to the circular nature of the audio loop, and to the etymology of the words “areola” (diminutive form of the Greek word for “open space”), aureole (the traditional “halo” of light around sacred figures in Medieval art) and the literal “audio relay” that is being created as the user completes the audio/visual circuit.
In 2010 I brought an interactive, musical sculpture to the Burning Man Festival called “Audioreolae” that allowed participants to experience live looping. Two “Golden” Pythagorean 3/4/5 triangles create the base for a twisted arch containing speakers. Audioreolae uses collaborative looping as a vehicle to question dichotomies such as performer/observer; front/back; now/then; beginning/end.
Over the course of 2010-2012 I installed the piece in various festivals, parks, Burning Man again, and the way people used the piece evolved…
Audioreolae is more of a phone booth than a stage, and eventually I started leaving the last loop open for the next person to augment. Capturing authentic moments of collaborative looping works because the person or persons creating Loops are isolated from the spectators around them, but plugged into the messages left by the previous user.
The audio environment is quadsound tilted from horizontal to vertical array, and paired with ping-pong delays form “random surround sound.” A tight sweetspot is cast at the intersection of a four channel arrangement of the speakers to create what I like to call a TAAZ: a Temporary Autonomous Audio Zone. When one is standing inside of it, it is very loud, but also almost inaudible from the perspective of bystanders.
This year I rebuilt the looper to collapse into itself, creating a battery-powered, 20kg package that could fly with me across Europe. In this “audio-relay,” the last loop is played first at the next site, connecting the recording sessions across both time and space.
The first activation took place at the Latvian Burn, DeJa, where from June 23-26 the sculpture stood in a field of knee-high hemp. I recorded Latvian and Lithuanian chants, as well as Ukrainian folk songs in multiple harmony looping, laughter, stories, etc.
Next we crossed the border into Lithuania and deployed Audioreolae on the evening of June 27th in a Mescal bar in Vilnius called “Yucatan.” My crew and I were invited by our new friend Kamile, who spins as Nataraja-the cosmic dancer. We were pickin’ up what she was puttin’ down in the DJ booth back at DeJa, so her friend opened up his bar to do a kind of improvised decompression event. He served us flights of cactahol ’til early in the morning, while Burners from the mighty Birds of Lithuania crew recorded messages for Playa.
From there it travelled back to downtown Riga, Latvia, where on June 30th I activated it across from the statue of the mythic Latvian poet Rainis, on Esplanade park. Passers-by took a moment to say a few words to the great scribe, and others played the guitar mixed in with the voices of the plaza.
Cloffy serenades the poet.
I’ve known musician/chef/Jedi Austris Silins for over Twenty years, since before Latvia was on the Euro, in NATO or had seen its first brand ambassadors. There’s a lot going on in this picture, and I can’t help but wonder what Rainis would’ve thought of it all…. #audioreolaeurope#audiorelay #looping #soundsculpture #interactiveart #inwardsoundprojection#Riga #Rainis #esplanade
This was the first activation in a public park, and I didn’t get hassled at all by anyone. half a dozen folks including a few from the Baltic Burn stopped by and once again the sculpture was a decompression zone.
I left the capitol and drove East, to Cesis, where I had some art handing business to attend to at the Global Center for Latvian Art. I camped at the base of a ski-lift across the river from the Gauja National Park, using the looper’s case as my table as I cooked dinner over a campfire.
In the morning I swam in the Gauja river and then drove into town and later assembled a small crew to activate the looper.
We renegaded the triangle box past security into the “Lampa” conversation festival in Cesis castle park, Latvia, on July 2nd. Just as security was distracted by the political roast going down on the mainstage, I walked the Pythago case past them and just started setting up. Better to ask forgiveness than permission. Look busy. Capture sound. Repeat.
The next stop was Nowhere, a European regional Burn held deep in the desert of Spain. Despite not being officially placed or on the map of the event, the Kunsthaus crew gave me excellent placement and art support and the piece looped dozens of individuals and groups in a variety of languages, from July 7-11th.
The culmination was using a variety of pickups, mics and sensors to attempt looping an unborn baby in the looper. My new friend Astride and her partner let me try -at least- to capture the sound of her baby’s heartbeat.
If we can isolate the heartbeat in the sample (which includes other music, people striking camps, using tools, etc) I’ll try to turn the little person’s bio-rhythms into a banging four-on-the floor beat for a DJ to mutate at Burning Man! On to New York, Chicago and the Big Burn, where the sculpture will have an interface that allows users to trigger the sounds of these places.