The echo locations project is a series of site-specific installations utilising motion sensing to invite observers to slow down, give the site their attention, and be still long enough for ghostly images to form of how people have moved through the site in the past.
MOVING IMAGES The Echo Locations projects build on the motion capture, particle systems, and slow interaction techniques developed for Will.0.w1sp. However, whereas the Will.0.w1sp characters moved through motion sequences captured in a studio, Echo Locations makes a stronger link to specific locations by capturing motion on site. The characters recreated by the particle software then become similar to ghosts, repeating movements which once occurred in the site. The software driving the particle systems creates chains of movement sequences and randomly drops in a sequence from either the original Will.0.w1sp performances, or from an earlier Echo Location. These chance movement sequences form a link between the location, the history of the location, and the history of the project. Just as with the original Will.0.w1sp, installations, if a visitor chases after the ghosts or “Echos”, they flee from that particular location and either reemerge in another location on the site, or scatter into seemingly random forms. Only when visitors to the site are still and quiet will they reform and return to their movements. The intention of the piece is to use interaction to make visitors reflect on their personal impact on an environment as they move through a location and to hint at its history. The movement choreography and styling of the echo characters is intended to hold visitor’s attention long enough for them to become aware of the environment, and the locations of individual screens are chosen as much for visual impact, as for their ability to communicate the former, and current, life of the location.
MOVING AUDIO The installations uses sound in an attempt to awaken curiosity and invite visitors to various locations on the site. The audio environment mixes samples recorded onsite together with simple melodies to create feelings of past inhabitants – whether they be quiet and contemplative as in the case of the ruins of a 6th C Catholic Church overlooking Morecambe Bay, or very loud as in the case of the Storey Institute when the building was owned by the Mechanic’s guilde. The installations also use Will.0.w1sp’s granular synthesis code to generate audio from the movement data. If visitors to the site are cam and still, this data is played out very melodically, but if visitors move around or make sound of their own, the sound from the particle flows becomes very sharp, aggressive scratches and hisses. Just as the motion of the particle dancers evoke the site’s past history, so does the audio environment.
Echo Locations was included in the SIGGRAPH 2008 Art and Design “Slow Art” exhibition and an Austin Texas version was commissioned specifically for the SxSWi (South by Southwest Interactive) Frog Design Party in 2009.
Direction and Graphics: Kirk Woolford
Music: Carlos Guedes
Dance: Patrizia Penev and Charlotte Griffin