“Intrusion(s)” is about the sonic tension between neighbours. It is an interactive essay where the audience uses an interactive device as well as being part of performative interaction. In order to achieve this, we have set two translucent walls facing each other. The first acts as a sonic mirror. Through the use of hidden microphones, sounds from the subject moving through the space are picked up and reflected back as a fragmented video image using a rear projection.
The second part of the installation also reacts to the subject, but in a less obvious way. Behind a curved wall, we set a fictional character, a neighbour who has his own life but also reacts to what is happening between the two walls. This character is inspired by our own experience, as well as that of others interviewed. We believe there is something universal about him, but wanted to give him a specific life to make him a plausible hero of our story. This character is Nico, a fifty years old man, ex-Russian actor who resides in the city of Waterloo (Belgium). Being retired and living abroad limits his social life. Furthermore, his extravagant character along with many years of solitude make him even more difficult to approach. Still, he likes to manifest himself in order to prove that he is still alive. He resides in a small room, part of bigger apartment occupied by his mother. This room is separated by a public stairwell, making him confuse the public and the private space.
This neighbour reacts to people in the space. He can sense their numbers, their proximity, their movements and obviously the sounds that they make and are induced to make via the sonic mirror. In short, he is like any real neighbour and so is his feedback. The sonic life of Nico is well regulated but has many possibilities for variants. He does what he has to do to seek reaction from the audience. If they react, he reacts in return but rarely directly, rather as an emotional accumulator. For this we have built a complex sound player using the software Max/MSP/Jitter for building interactive projects (Cycling74). The player plays a certain audio scenario according to the circumstances and according to the accumulation of events in the space. To give the audience an idea of what is happening behind the wall we have set up a couple of coloured LED giving a feedback on his emotional state.
How did this project use Max?
Max is at the heart of the project. On a single Mac Pro, we have connected 2 iFire cameras, an Arduino + BlinkM's (via bluetooth) and a sound interface connected to two microphones. We ran two instances of Max on the same computer, one for each wall, that communicates through OSC.