Pathways Study

. Post-Mortem .



We arrived, seduced by the idea of infinite possibilities,
intrigued by the dimensions we might perceive while creating a path.

We posed a question: How would you move in space if you were able to see or perceive the invisible interconnections (frequencies/vibrations)around you? What kind of path would you create?

We thought: This could be a study on human frequencies, a speculative anatomy.

First step: Place six speakers in a room. Position them in a certain manner that will delimit space in x,y,z axis. Play different sounds representing invisible frequencies around us carrying data.

What pathways did you see?

* Static: No physical movement or shift in space, possibly due to blindfolds and multiple inputs of constant sounds- with no rules or guides to follow. However, it is interesting to notice that no physical displacement can occur parallel to a possible internal movement or thought process – Therefore how could we trace the pathway of thoughts (doubt, fear, curiosity etc.) inside our brains and bodies as we remain static in space?

* Random: Once the first participant felt comfortable to explore physical space, there seemed to be an intention to find a beat/rhythm and follow it or disrupt it. However, the multiplicity of sounds/volumes, we believe made the participant pose a question: whether to create “order” or follow “chaos” in movement. In other words, a tension between linear and random path making.

* Circular/Smoothness: or an intention of roundness, as the first participant explored space. Her arms stretched and her body expanded in an attempt to reach a sound source. At the same time, she tried to find more stability and familiarity, thus she placed her body closer to the walls. This path involved exploring the limits, touching them with movement.

*Linear: There seemed to be a contraction or push and pull as she attempted to find smoothness or roundness in her movement but found herself pushed and constrained into a linear path by the various points of sounds.

The second person to experience our piece, probably due to the previous reference, entered space with confidence. However, when blindfolded we noticed how a limitation or barrier in her intended path had emerged. It is interesting to notice that a pathway might have several points of decision-making or detours that determine orientation/force/goal. Therefore a pathway might be described as a learning process.

This second experience generated a pathway that we believe followed a triangle wave or a non-sinusoidal waveform. A periodic, linear and continuous function. A triangle wave contains only odd harmonics, demonstrating odd symmetry.

The pathway created in this case followed a specific upbeat, almost like a synthesizer of various sounds, generating a visual sound by a punctuated sharp linear movement on y-axis, counterpoint.

This was followed by a crawling movement, transforming the high peaks on y axis to a now constant low position on y axis and a malleable x axis exploration, almost noisy.

Which ones did you predict and design for?

Our main goal was to question a possible volume or dimensionality generated by the interaction of movement/presence and sound/frequencies. Therefore we predicted and designed delimitations in space by means of sound that we expected could generate points of constraint.

We predicted a fundamental linear path that would trace the limit points in-between the six sound sources, creating a constant movement which we hoped in turn to draw a perspective.

We specifically placed the speakers in different x y and z coordinates so that the possible pathway enabled a perspective by enlarging or extending space by a sensation of distance (the relation of two figures in the same plane, such that pairs of corresponding points lie on concurrent lines, and corresponding lines meet in collinear points.)

We also predicted a random spatial distribution as movement perceived sound.

Which were surprises?

Our experimental approach called for surprises, however, we did not expect pathways “off boundaries” or exit points. We imagined the speakers, placed in specific positions in space, serving as barriers or total delimitations of space. We did predict users approaching or having the desire to explore the source of a sound, but we were surprised to see pathways expanding to a non-audible territory or invisible to the Kinect.

Moreover, we expected more cautious and reserved movements guided by the augmentation of the hearing sense as we cut the sense of sight. Thus it was surprising to see a freer movement, smooth and expansive.   

A very pleasant surprise was seeing users move in the x, y and z axis; we hoped for dimensionality but we did not know exactly how it would look like.

What design choices did you make to influence the pathways people would take?

Our design choices responded to:

An assigned space: the classroom scenario.

Our specific goal: to render visible the interconnections in space by means of movement and dimensionality,

The strongest design choice we made was to disable the sense of sight and augment the sense of audition. This choice resulted as an answer to a question we asked ourselves: How would you move in space if you were able to perceive the interconnections (frequencies/vibrations)? What would your path be?

We predicted that the Kinect had to be positioned at a higher altitude with an angle, in order to sense and trace the movement of the head/torso as a complete element in space. We were not interested in limbs or displaceable joints.

Once we determined the possible range of the Kinect, we decided the x,y and z locations of the audio sources, predicting a linear movement on multiple axis.

We also asked ourselves, how does a choreography of existing frequencies around us might look like? Therefore we prototyped the idea of having multiple devices in space receiving and emitting frequencies we can trace and make visible as patterns or paths of movement.

What if frequencies have a certain weight or other unexpected means of perception? This question informed our design choices regarding stroke weight and audio file selection.

What choices were not made? left to chance?

We did not calculate the time for each track playing from a different source. We thought about having the sounds on a loop but then we decided to let them play and see what happens when randomly some stop and others continue playing. We thought that could be an interesting thread to a pathway.

We invited a volunteer to experience our piece but we did not provide any explanation or rules, and it was interesting to notice that a person is more likely to expect rules or directions once blindfolded. In a way taking the element of vision is giving yourself to chance.

What did people feel interacting with your piece? How big was the difference between what you intended and what actually happened?




NatGeo: The brain is full of Manhattan-like grids (Ed Yong) – 03/29/2012

Choros / 2011 / 13 min / HD / Stereo (Directed by Michael Langan and Terah Maher)

Ray Tracing

The Acrobatic Cardinal Points (Cosac Naify) – 2013

NY Times: Mysterious Rite of Reproduction (NATALIA V. OSIPOVA) Jun. 20, 2016

ScienceAlert: Scientists have confirmed a brand new phase of matter: time crystals (Fiona MacDonald) – Feb. 1, 2017


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