In 2014, and as a student at the HfMDK Frankfurt, I had the opportunity to work on the sound system of the awesome CORNEA TI installation, created by Prof. Teltenkötter’s design team at the Hochschule Mainz. The installation was presented at the Luminale Frankfurt, a festival dedicated to light.
The U-shaped installation had several presence detectors at the height of the feet, which would broadcast their on/off information via OSC to the light and sound systems in real time. The sound output consisted of 8 genelec loudspeakers distributed around the outer ring of the installation, slightly above the head’s height, and fed through XLR cables from a mixing console nearby the installation.
To map the sensor input to the audio output, I made a PureData patch that looked like this at the top level:
The right section reflects the position and current status of the sensors, as well as the position of the loudspeakers. It serves mainly as a debug/control mechanism.
The left section is the “workspace”, where modules made by different students could be arbitrarily interconnected. This made it a fun and flexible system to work with and get close to a live coding experience, but could also be fixed for a more installative setup.
The middle section contains a library of modules for signal control, audio and routing, which allow for quick repatching and less redundancy. It also has a display with the system’s output intensities: modules send audio to “virtual” buses, and the buses are routed to the actual output channels using the spacializer abstractions. This allows sounds to follow visitors’ trajectories, be at several places at the same time, etc.
Of course, as caution (and experience) dictates, a panic button and master volume control is also present. Last but not least, the installation was inside a ship anchored near Frankfurt’s city center, and the Ensemble Modern programmed several performances in collaboration. It can’t get cooler than that!