Design, Programming, Composition
This installation suggests harmony exists not only in music and visual art, but between abstract concepts such as nature and computer technology, or the ancient and the modern. It also implies a harmony between people, as the installation accommodates the blind, deaf, and physically disabled, and is made publicly available, free of charge, on family weekends at the i.d.e.a. Museum. The slides to the left of this paragraph show the finished project and a few photos of it in progress.
The speakers in the dome play an ambisonic recording as an ambient bed. Users can then add mono sources, encoded in AmbiX format, by placing "game pieces" on the table, which are read by reacTIVision computer vision framework. The X/Y data of each piece controls its spatialization. Moving some pieces, like the guitar, triggers a sound. The rotational data of each piece triggers a special nature sound, controls volume, or controls a filter.
The LED lights serve as a cue, telling people where the sound is principally coming from. The lights are meant to aid visitors' spatial awareness and prompt interaction between people. Most peoples' first instinct is to place a game piece on the table, right in front of themselves. This means the sound comes from behind them. When this happens, those standing in other areas of the dome notice the change in lighting behaviors around a particular speaker. They point out the change, and a personal interaction occurs.
Cool colors, as opposed to warm ones, were chosen for the installation to create a sleek, futuristic feel and to make a subtle nod to the colors of the earth (green and blue). In Harmony used a Madrix Luna 8 and the DMX protocol to control the 8 universes.
Musically, the pitch material is taken from a spectral analysis of the rippling stream in an ambisonic nature recording of Oak Creek Canyon, Arizona. Depending on the usage of the game pieces, the music is either pandiatonic or tonal. This is meant to reflect humans' choice to impose their own structures on natural ones, but without presenting a positive or negative judgement of said structures.
Primarily, instruments uncommon to the orchestra were chosen for the installation. Only instruments that could easily be set-up outside were used--no organs or pianos. Also, musical instruments from multiple cultures were employed.
The non-anthropologic sounds used in the installation were those that might feasibly be encountered in the Oak Creek region: rattlesnakes, frogs, birds, wolves, wind, and rustling leaves.
In this installation, the nature sounds represent the ancient and the design represents sleek modern technology. The work as a whole shows that people, and their technology, are part of the natural landscape, not above it.