WHAT, HOW & WHY.
WORDS is an interactive installation that reacts to sound through light. It is a giant 230cm cubed piece of iron, copper, LEDs and polyesterene.
It has an incorporated mic and speakers. Through Arduino and a computer, the sound that comes in turns into a ghostly recording that the user hears as soon as they stop speaking.
It was presented in Sónar 2017, a hub for EDM music and new technologies. We wanted to explore the links between time, language and humanity through a piece that invited users to express themselves in an raw manner.
This project originated as some kind of 'no-excuse' project. There are always certain things that make a piece not as good as it could have been, and alongside two classmates, we wanted to make the antithesis of this. Meaning; create a scenario in which time constraints don't exist, money is not the primary driver and the briefing is completely free.
SKY'S THE LIMIT
We were vaguely aware of the setting; we knew we wanted to sell the project to IED Barcelona as a piece that would really stand out in the upcoming Sónar, that was just months away.
As this was something done with 0 management from any kind of department, the meetings were done at our own leisure. This allowed for a lot of ideation to be made, and with it many sketches and probable user interactions we wanted to have.
BIRTH OF THE 'TESSERACT'
After a few meetings with the school we were reaching a critical point; what's the installation going to look like, the technology it uses and how people interact with it.
From the concepts we wanted to explore we grew more and more attached to the existence of impossible shapes, and how the manifest in the space. Fusing time and language the naming came up naturally: WORDS.
MASSIVE IN EVERY WAY
We ended up going with iron, polystyrene, copper, LEDs and fabric. The piece was about 500 pounds when assembled completely, but individually no piece went over 30 pounds. The 'Tesseract' is disassembled in less than 2 days, and with a minimum of a group of 4.
It was extremely satisfying seeing the piece getting built by the blacksmith, the base by the carpenter, and the sound by the engineering consultant. Towards the last two weeks of production, delays became deathly and festive days were a nightmare, but with good planning no disaster is definitive.
Transport was somewhat simple, a truck, a group of friends and some heavy lifting. We were smart enough to leave always the correct amount of people doing something and nothing, as an exhausted bunch is useless.
3 DAYS OF SUCCESS
The first day of the festival, the piece was not working properly, although attendees were already showing great interest in it. After one full day of testing in-site, everything went smoothly. People were entering the exhibit en masse, sometimes a dozen at a time. By the end of the third day, we explained the project at least a couple thousand times.
Luckily, a few of those were press. According to EL MUNDO, a Spanish newspaper, we were the #1 installation in Sónar+D, the section we were in. It was a bit weird seeing my pitch in the website, completely uncensored, but rewarding as the interviewer was satisfied by the whole experience and the fact that we were 3 students.
Also, we had a member of the team interviewed by RNE, a Spanish national radio station. It was more of a continous flow of good news throughout all three days, as we were also getting good feedback from users pretty regularly.
THE FINAL WORDS
The whole point of the project was, objectively, to record a lot of people and make a track out of that. Thanks to a few producer friends of one of the team members, the track was timely released in the project's website.
Also, as we were unsure of the future of the piece as funding came from the school, we wanted to get as much content out of the piece as possible, resulting in a lot of video and photography outputs being recorded.
Ideally, even though I'm no longer attached to the project, I'd like to see it go to other festivals and see the technology behind it go places I wouldn't have had imagined.
TEAM: JUNIOR GONZÁLEZ, DANAË FISCHER, MILENA ROSÈS. CONSULTANTS: ÁLEX BORDANOVA, MARTA FERNÁNDEZ, TRIAD MUSIC. SPECIAL THANKS: IED BARCELONA, SIMÓN & FLUVIA, AGUSTÍN VERRASTRO, PABLO BUSTOS, PABLO RAUSELL.