- 27 March:
This year Telcosystems has been working at Baltan on elaborating the spatial and interactive features of their 12_series system, as part of the ongoing Poème Numérique research programme. This post will focus on their spatial endeavors; the next one will be on interactivity.
The Flux/S festival invited us to fill the first floor of the former Philips SDM building, approximately 3000m2 divided into three rooms. The spaces are less than 3 meters high and filled with a grid of thick columns, one every six meters or so.
This was a perfect setting for us to come up with a new spatial strategy since there was no clear line of sight to install a simple straight audiovisual horizon. We modeled the space in 3D and made a variety of 2D and 3D sketches in order to find out what could work and what would definitely not work.
Technically the big space also proposed some interesting hurdles. We needed bigger screens and a bigger sound system to fill the space properly and create the needed audiovisual impact. We ended up using 40-inch NEC plasma displays on stands, 12-inch Audio Performance SB2 and four Audio Performance SUB3 subwoofers.
The reverb in the space was immense, so we also had to come up with a spatial setup for the speakers that would preserve the directional integrity as much as possible. Furthermore we had to find a solution for transporting the images from the computers to the screens (20 – 60 meters). Since copper DVI wires only run up to 10 meters we had to choose between DVI over CAT5 and optical DVI cables to drive the 12 40-inch plasmas. Both solutions have their particular weaknesses. For the first one this lies primarily in the converter boxes, CAT5 is a very cheap cable and easy to replace. The optical solution does not work with separate converters, but the cables themselves are very sensitive and get easily broken. Which is not so good since they are expensive. We chose the latter since we worked with this before.
We also wanted to keep the space between the screens connected to the work instead of having the experience being dictated by the concrete structure of the building. We decided to install a haze machine to keep the space filled with an evenly distributed layer of haze, functioning as a reflector for the light coming from the screens. The result was quite spectacular; somehow it gave the ‘in-between space’ almost a physical quality.
As for the internals of the system, we made a new version of the image and sound generators and updated the compositional software. With the screens and speakers placed in three groups of four, with the groups separated in space, and the high likelihood of loosing individual screens or groups of screens behind pillars, we adapted the compositional software safeguarding the compositional coherence. We, for instance, slowed down the rate of change, enhancing the audience’s ability to walk around without missing the experience of group dynamics. The image and sound generators were also more likely enter behavioral modes that emphasised synchronicity or the lack thereof.
The result of this new spatial investigation has been shown at the Flux/S festival in Eindhoven from September 9-12, 2010. In our next post we will dive into the interactive universe of 12_series.