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The making of Elektropoesia

2004-11-30

The last couple of weeks before the opening of the Electrohype me and Kurt Ralske was exchanging ideas and material on almost daily basis mainly using Skype and the intranet services of the BEK web servers. It was interesting to experience how the collaboration and the ongoing discussion during the development phase felt as close as in other projects I’ve been involved with in spite of me being situated in Bergen and Kurt in New York.

The image above is me projecting a sample movie from Kurt at my office a few days before leaving for Malmö. The technical equipment was already shipped so I had to make do with the two loudspeakers left in Bergen.

I arrived in MalmöSunday a little more than a week ago. The equipment had already arrived at the Malmökunsthall. In a few hours everything was unpacked and I’d connected all loudspeakers etc. One day ahead of the planned schedule.

The room used for the installation was custom built for this exhibition dimensions approx. 8 × 5 meters with double walls 1 meter apart from each other to prevent sound leaking in and out of the room.

Very early on in the development phase Kurt had signaled that he wanted to work on a wide strip of video (2048 × 240 pixels) using two projectors mounted next to each other to project the images. Responding to this I decided to create a line of loudspeakers instead of positioning them in two- or three-dimensional space. My first idea was to have the loudspeakers at the opposite wall of the projections. This was abadoned as I realised that the audience most likely would stand facing the projection. Humans are not as good at trace the position of sounds approaching from behind as if they approach from a localisation in front of you.

Initially I planned on positioning the loudspeakers standing vertical in a normal position. Monday it suddenly occured to me that if I tilted them sideways I’d be able to make a continuous line of the loudspeakers. The speakers are close to 50 cm tall. With 16 loudspeakers all together that would fill all of the wall. It turned out to be a few centimeters left at each side just enough to get space for the cabling required.

The support for the artists exhibiting was outstanding all the way both from Anna and Lars at Electrohype and the staff at the Malmökunsthall. Before leaving for MalmöI was unsure if I would have to paint the room myself. It turned out that all practical tasks to prepare the room was taken care of by the staff in an excellent way most of the time without me having to ask at all. Here the shelf that loudspeakers would rest had been mounted and the the shelf and the wall below being painted dark gray.

I’d initially asked for the room to be dark. The Kunsthall prefered it to be dark gray as it would make it a lot easier to change to a brighter color later on. The color suggested by them turned out to work just as good maybe better.

With loudspeakers positioned the placement of the projection was adjusted so that the two projections (both using the same kind of projector 2500 ANSI lumens) was the same size properly mounted and in line. The upper and lower edges of the projection was marked masked and the wall was then painted dark gray below and above the projection area.

During the first two days working at the gallery I was asked several times if the projection was supposed to be so small in the the vertical direction. As soon as the wall was painted I never got this question anymore. The room clearly signaled that the size was intentional and I don’t think anyone thought of questioning it anymore. Also the projection was positioned further down on the wall that when the projectors was first mounted. This quite changed the physical impact of the projection. Now almost at eye level the physical impact of the movements of the images was felt to be a lot stronger.

The sound for the installation was developed in parallell based on material prepared before leaving. Placement of sound along the line of loudspeakers was mainly done using ambisonics in Max thanks to the ambipan~ object.

When Kurt was arriving after the press preview Thursday last week the work on the room was more or less complete. We spent the afternoon looking through the video material and listening to the various possibilities for sound that I had prepared and finding out how to do final tuning of video and audio to match. Once again I experienced what a difference to the final result this kind of fine tuning makes. Friday was spent implementing the decisions we had made preparing the Max patches for simple maintenance during the lifespan of the exhibition (8 weeks) backing up all data in case of severe crashes etc. The vernisage in the evening was well attended and Saturday the exhibition had 900 visitors. Not bad in Malmöa city with a population of 270.000.

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