Awaken – kinetic reactive sound installation

Awaken – interactive sound installation – Michele Abolaffio – 2018.

Awaken explores the relationship between instincts and conscious thinking.
What is the influence of the natural impulses over the rational?
Awaken narrates its struggle to the viewer, seeking his/her attention through its actions.
The viewer is invited to touch the skin of Awaken, forcing a shift in the balance of the dialogue.


Some photos by Cindy Voitus.

—building process
Some time ago I got asked by STEIM to develop a kinetic sound installation that would involve a moving speaker. After a short brainstorming with Fedde that defined the basic elements, I started developing the concept of its interaction. Meanwhile I designed the physical structure with TinkerCad, creating designs for laser-cut wooden panels.
After a few iterations of prototypes I arrived at a good balance of weight, robustness and easiness of assembly, using only 3mm multiplex wood, glue, and a few screws for assembling the removable panels.
For the sound processing part I adopted a Bela Board, for its easiness of programming based on the Pure Data language (among others).
The sensor I adopted for detecting the presence of onlookers is the TOF Sensor from Adafruit, a laser-based range finder that is much more stable than the usual ultrasound ones.

The installation is reactive to both itself and the onlookers. Whenever it detects a presence it starts oscillating the thin mylar membrane. A contact microphone placed on the membrane feeds back the sound into the process, thus creating complex patterns of low frequency resonances that are influenced also by the shape of the mylar sheet. The onlooker can influence the behaviour by touching the membrane, entering thus the feedback loop.
When there is no presence detected, Awaken slowly stops oscillating, returning to its rest state and waiting for the next entity to whom narrate its story.

—general info
Structural concept: Fedde Ten Berge;
Design, realization, audio processing and concept: Michele Abolaffio.

The work has been commissioned by STEIM, Amsterdam, to be displayed in the Sound Art gallery.

This work has been exhibited at the Uitmarkt 2018, Muziekgebouw, Amsterdam.
It will also be part of STEIM’s exhibition during the Museum Nacht 2018 at the EYE Film Institute, Amsterdam.

more info on Michele Abolaffio:


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