harvester

Installation views at Kiasma, Helsinki, Finland (August, 2004). Mixed media, custom electronics, sound (dimensions variable).



Harvester is an installation that employs sound, kinetic elements, and interactivity to create a shifting audio field from a system of controlled feedback. The sounds heard are derived from the piece itself: a set of feedback tones that arise naturally from the electronic components. These tones are a monitor of the status of the piece as it moves and changes: all sounds are generated in real time, none are prerecorded. The feedback sounds are filtered so that they become a set of evolving, resonant low and mid-range tones that can be listened to for an extended period of time.

 

Harvester is built using a set of microphones that are held at the ends of slender, flexible support stands which are themselves moved by electric motors. The stands are distributed around a space so that visitors can walk among them. The microphones pick up ambient sounds, including their own amplified signal coming from the loudspeakers. These sounds are processed and sent to the speakers resulting in a feedback network whose sound varies as the positions of the microphones change.

 

As visitors move through Harvester, they can affect its behavior by their physical presence in the path of the sound. The interaction in Harvester occurs without the visitor having to actively address any sort of technology; both the visitor input and its results occur in real physical space. It is a form of interaction that is both complex and subtle, one that is intuitively engaging and rewards extended interaction. This interaction is the central concern of the piece. It is one that allows participation in a kind of living system, a system that is both a metaphor for the myriad ways that electronic and physical acoustic spaces are mapped onto one another and an example of exactly such a space.