Curve (2019)

An immersive real-time spatialised sonic ecosystem and experience

CURVE is an audio-visual sculptural object, consisting of 120 orbs suspended in a walkthrough space. Each orb contains LEDs, a speaker, processor, wi-fi connectivity, accelerometer/movement sensor. Together they create a real-time immersive ecosystem of sound and light, a symphony of and for the Internet of Things. The result is an organic, emergent and immersive audio-visual experience.

CURVE is also a series of spatialised audio collaborations. The first, with Scottish singer Emma Gillespie, is currently showing at Black and Grey Atelier in San Diego, USA. It is a haunting and delicate exploration of voice and space, a remix of Emma’s works ‘Low Buzz’ and ‘Settling’. The second, with Lee Gamble (Hyperdub), will be premiered at Simple Things, Bristol UK in October.

The approach deconstructs a piece of music into its constituent parts, and then reknits those elements into an exploded, spatial, walkthrough soundscape.

Curve is a next step in Squidsoup’s ongoing explorations of around the boundaries of light, digital media and immersive experience, this time using points of sound as well as light. It stems from previous projects such as Field (2015), Bloom (2016) and Wave (2018), with each new iteration having an increasing focus on sound and the work’s spatial audio capabilities.

Each orb is individually controllable. Orbs can communicate with each other, they know their relative location, can sense movement, and all units can be synchronised and choreographed from server commands. Rather than using panning to interpolate between a limited number of speakers, the idea here is to place the speaker where the sound is – so there are 120 locations, each of which can play sounds together or individually. The result is a true soundscape, an ecosystem of autonomous sources of sound and light.

We envisage a series of audiovisual programmed behaviours, that include discrete, highly localised sounds, waves of sound moving through the piece, ambient general soundscapes, with or without randomisation, sonic behaviours that respond to touch/movement, external data sources and so on.

The work can be controlled in real time and/or presented as a complete, pre-arranged composition that may or may not be different each time it is played.

#1: Emma Gillespie – on show at Black and Grey Atelier, San Diego
#2: Lee Gamble – premiere at Simple Things festival, Bristol (UK) 16-19 October 2019

Development, as Audiowave, assisted by SWCTN Immersion Prototype funding.