localStyle (Marlena Novak & Jay Alan Yim) in collaboration with Malcolm MacIver

Scale
‘scale’ is an interspecies art project: an audience-interactive installation that involves nocturnal electric fish from the Amazon River Basin. Twelve different species of these fish comprise a choir whose sonified electrical fields provide the source tones for an immersive audiovisual environment. The fish are housed in individual tanks configured in a custom-built sculptural arc of aluminum frames placed around a central podium. The electrical field from each fish is translated into sound, and is thus heard — unprocessed or with digital effects added, with immediate control over volume via a touchscreen panel — through a 12-channel surround sound system, and with LED arrays under each tank for visual feedback. All software is custom-designed. Audience members interact as deejays with the system. Amongst the goals of the project is our desire to foster wider public awareness of these remarkable creatures, their importance to the field of neurological research, and the fragility of their native ecosystem.The project leaders comprise visual/conceptual artist Marlena Novak, composer/sound designer Jay Alan Yim, and neural engineer Malcolm MacIver. MacIver’s research focuses on sensory processing and locomotion in electric fish and translating this research into bio-inspired technologies for sensing and underwater propulsion through advanced fish robots. Novak and Yim, collaborating as ‘localStyle’, make intermedia works that explore perceptual themes, addressing both physical and psychological thresholds in the context of behavior, society/politics, and aesthetics.

Christoph De Boeck

Staalhemel

The intimate topography of the brain is laid out across a grid of 80 steel ceiling tiles as a spatialized form of tapping. The visitor can experience the dynamics of his cognitive self by fitting a wireless EEG interface on his head, that allows him to walk under the acoustic representation of his own brain waves.The accumulating resonances of impacted steel sheets generates penetrating overtones. The spatial distribution of impact and the overlapping of reverberations create a very physical soundspace to house an intangible stream of consciousness.‘Staalhemel’ (‘steel sky’, 2009) articulates the contradictory relationship we entertain with our own nervous system. Neurological feedback makes that the cognitive focus is repeatedly interrupted by the representation of this focus. Concentrated thinking attempts to portray itself in a space that is reshaped by thinking itself nearly every split second.