Disco Debris – an interactive sound installation
The public enters one person at a time into a dark neutral space in which they experience the sensation of literally walking through debris of frozen sound. One stumbles on a landscape of frozen voices, barely recognizable shards of 1970’s pop music, static bird song, broken pulses of disco music reduced to an almost Geiger like clicking, resonances of invisible spaces. These imaginary spaces are mapped onto a topography of intersecting voices and sounds, which slowly transform over time.
Technically this is achieved by using a video camera which tracks the movements of the audience so that the XY position is mapped directly onto the frozen moment of the sound heard back in the space or in the headphones. The sound is granulated and the position of the person in the space determines which moment of time is heard.
Time becomes space.
This installation was developed out of the Suspended Spaces project on visiting the ghost town of Varosha in Northern Cyprus. I have a particular personal connection with Varosha, as it is the location of my earliest memory. We were on holiday there at the time of the invasion in July 1974. I was 4 years old. I remember hearing sirens and running into the basement of a hotel, where we spent the day with my brother, whose birthday it was that day, drawing pictures on the floor with the chalk that was being dislocated form the limestone walls by the bombing going on outside.
Returning there again in 2008 and seeing from the outside the shells of these hotels, wondering if I could recognize the hotel we were staying in, wondering if we would have left any clothes or toys in the rush of evacuation that would still be lying there somewhere under dunes of sand. Knowing that my first memory comes from the day that time froze there, gave me a strong sense of looking at the transitory facade of one’s own memory, as if it was a granulated landscape one could walk through. The potential human narratives of a moment in time, frozen and left to nature to transform into her own supreme concept.
The following illustrations try to present visually the experience of the installation, the sense of walking through the fragments of voices, mostly of early 70’s pop music. As a way of mirroring the topography of voices that inhabit the space, text is photo-shopped onto photographs of the installation in a version that was presented at Time Canvas at the M HKA (Antwerp) on the 7th March 2010. Here the installation was presented in the headphone version. The preceding photograph is from the presentation at the Maison de la Culture (Amiens), where the space was delineated by theatre lights, and the sound was directly heard in that space.
Software for the project was developed at STEIM (Amsterdam). Thank you to Frank Baldé and Byungjun Kwon for technical assistance. Ayelet Harpaz for provding her voice. Brent Klinkum, Daniel LÊ, Françoise Parfait and the others from the Suspended Space team for making this project happen, and the technical team in Maison de La Culture d’Amiens for their help in putting up the piece. Pauline Jurado for permission to use her photograph of the installation in Amiens. Champ d’Action for programming it at Time Canvas at the M HKA (Antwerp).