Signals and Stillness – installation demonstration video. Use this password to view: currents2019.
Signals and Stillness was created in response to the bombardment of commercial media that we frequently experience from television displays in public settings. The piece reverses the relationship between the viewer and broadcast content that is intent on influencing and demanding the viewer’s attention. The large monitor in the piece “recognizes” and responds to the prolonged stationary presence of an observer – the rapidly switching excerpts of advertisements, news, sports and talk shows begin to morph into their abstracted visual and sonic essence. Multiple viewers observing in stillness influence the effect further, revealing deeper layers and patterns of abstraction. The piece explores choices of what we give our attention to – a stream of information overload, or our “present presence”.
The centerpiece of the installation is a large television monitor (between 55”-65”), elevated 5-6 feet from the floor, or a large projected display. In its default state, the display features rapidly changing clips from current advertisements, news stories, daytime talkshows and sports highlights, each played at normal speed (with normal audio) for a few seconds before switching to the next clip.
Three circles, each around 24 inches in diameter, are illuminated on the floor in front of the display by LED spotlights suspended from the ceiling. When a viewer remains still in one of the circles, their presence is detected by the system, and the display’s visuals begin to change in reaction – the playback speed slows, and the original video images are gradually transformed into abstract scenes of ethereal light and color shapes and patterns. The audio morphs into synth-like musical chords through the use of FFT filtering, delays and reverb effects. The longer a viewer remains within a circle, the more pronounced these effects become. When 2 or 3 people are standing still in the circles, additional visual and audio effects begin to appear, encouraging an experimentation with group stillness.
The installation is operated by custom programs run using Max software on a dedicated laptop/computer. The audio portion can be presented either using near field active monitors placed directly on each side of the observation circles area, or through headphones provided to the viewers within each of the circles.