Tumult

Tumult is a swell of noise, like that of the waves of the ocean in a storm, which subsumes listeners as it floods around them. It uses a four-channel speaker setup with subwoofer and is powered by a computer running Max/MSP with Jitter. There is nothing in the space except for four white speakers on the walls at head height, a subwoofer in the corner, a video camera attached to the ceiling and a single spotlight set up on the floor. The spot is positioned so that it casts a pool of light on one of the walls and, using the video camera, the installation detects when someone enters the space and casts a shadow on the wall. The work itself doesnt make any sound until someone enters but when that happens a rush of noise floods into the space and swells around until the listener exits. If someone just walks through the space or casts a small shadow the work rumbles briefly but if someone stands in the middle of the room, which is the best listening position, and casts a large shadow it can really roar. It uses computer generated pink noise, which is a kind of noise that occurs frequently in the world, for example in the waves of the ocean, traffic and a room filled with loud conversation, and so sounds familiar but not representative of anything in particular. Essentially the work explores the relationship between the presence of individuals and the noise around them. It is inspired by the theory of Michel Serres, who argues in his book Genesis that noise cannot be a phenomenon; every phenomenon is separated from it, a silhouette on a backdrop, like a beacon against the fog, as every message, every cry, every call, every signal must be separated from the hubbub that occupies silence, in order to be, to be perceived, to be known, to be exchanged. It makes listeners more aware of their own presence while at the same time demonstrating that noise is all around them and suggesting that it can very pleasurable to get lost in it once in a while

Presented at Firstdraft Gallery, Sydney in 2011

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