I have recently received a new publication by Swarovski Crystal Palace on Arik Levy's Osmosis exhibition in Milan, 2009. I contributed an essay in this book about our experience in creating the interactive video for the exhibition.
Above: An image from the interactive video by Arik Levy.
My deep thanks to Arik Levy and the Swarovski team for this unique artistic and human experience. And to artist, Natasha Newton, for her constant encouragement and for her unparalleled precision in helping me to edit and proof-read the text.
Below is a quick photograph of the article. Following it, I have pasted the original text, as well as some page views and a downloadable example of the sound environment in mp3 format, for those interested.
Best to all,
Interactive Arena, article by Leon Milo.
Having completed the sound design and programming for Arik Levy’s Osmosis exhibition, I am thinking about the choices that we made. The choice of sounds, their qualities and their origins. The density of textures and how they fill a space. The way in which the transformation of these sounds might enhance a viewer’s perception of an object (either real or as an image), and ways of accompanying the experience of being confronted with an image which reacts to one’s every move!
Osmosis is the latest in a series of installations with Arik Levy, starting more than a decade ago, in which we explore and play with the relationships between art, design, sound and space.
But this installation was different. Unique in it’s enormity and unique in it’s amplitude. Unique in the variety of objects as well as in their variations of form, texture, color and function. My part in this 800 square-meter exhibit was to create an interactive sound world which would accompany a 5x8 meter, 3D image in the form of an interactive, floating and multi-faceted diamond shape. These same sounds would also be used as the audio environment for the entire exhibit.
After walking through the 100 meter x 8 meter installation, (a veritable “Mystery Tour” of color and form) we come into a space made especially for interactive video, in constant motion and constant transition. A geometry formed and reformed, exploded and reconfigured by the presence and movement of people at the ultimate arrival point! A model of transition from one state to another, and a game allowing us to take part in the creativity and transformation of elements.
I often think of objects (and spaces) as being resonant. Of tending towards a certain type of sound or sonic ambience. Perhaps as a percussionist, after years of seeing and trying out everything as a potential instrument, I began to feel as if I could intuitively see how an object would vibrate! Of course, all matter is made up of atoms in motion. The ability to excite these atoms allows for sound waves which move the air. It is certainly possible to analyze and recreate the sound of a specific object using physical modeling software. It is a technique which I have frequently used, with results producing very musical sound material!
But when conceiving a sound environment for an exhibition such as this, imagining ways which help a viewer feel a physical and emotional link with what they are experiencing, I first of all let intuition be my guide. I imagine sound, textures or sonic spaces driven by a feeling or abstract idea. It may be a suggestive shape, an ambience, or simply a quality of light. Sounds which may give the impression that the objects themselves are in vibration, as if the molecule’s movements were being scanned by a giant sonic microscope!
The original sounds for Osmosis came mostly from samples of glass, resonant crystal, ice, rock, earth movement and various bowed metal instruments recorded in my studio. At first, extremely quiet and subtle, the sounds become huge when modified by two harmonizer software treatments, changing the pitch, length, sound quality and frequencies, etc. by way of movement in front of the video. This movement is captured by a video cam, sending the information to the video and sound treatment software. Completely fluid, these sounds become super visions of what they were originally, as if changing from cold to hot, brittle to flexible, liquid to solid!
Eight stereo sound banks play back the treated audio at different speeds, with various 4-channel panning, volume, and mix of pure and treated sounds, depending on the number of people and level of movement in the viewing area. As the public moves and plays with the image, the sound follows with different intensities and varying qualities. This sound is diffused in real time on the other side at the start of the exhibition, and audible in the distance on either side throughout the space, giving us a preview of what is to come!
When the visitor finally makes his way through the path of Arik’s larger-than-life creation, he finds himself confronted with - but in control of - this huge shape in space.
Exhibition « Preliminaries » : design at the threshold of love.
an extension of a project on the theme of love, SLOTT gallery have invited four designers to play out their
fantasies, giving shape and meaning, breathing life into their
conceptions of preliminaries. They have approached this subject from
different and complementary viewpoints that together offer a panorama
of creation like no other seen before.
Levy's major part of this exhibition, for which I contributed sound and interactive programing, unveils his work on the spoken and the unspoken of intimate
relations with his series of installations entitled « Confessions »
that includes, among other elements, an examination of the iconography
of sexuality alongside a kind of modern home confessional.
Like the color of a sunset in mid-summer or the smell of Sunday
dinner, sound has an effect on our perception of the world and of ourselves. The
sound of our shower, experienced every morning but never heard, or a
response to a question which we could have only hoped for in an inner
voice, and heard in an unlikely context, places a spotlight on our lives
and emotions using a sense which is too often ignored.
Arik asked me to make what he now calls a "Voice Positivisor". What we see of this is a white computer screen and a microphone. On approching the screen, we see a faint line of text. When one speaks in to the mic we hear phrases spoken back to us by one of six voices which I recorded especially for this experience. Arik gave me 29 written phrases which were recorded independetly by 3 women and 3 men. One never knows which voice or which phrase will come back to us, but it is always a good surprise which leaves us feeling very positive and smiling! When the voice speaks, the corresponding text is shown on the white screen.
Other abience consisted of a multi track recording which I made during a dinner party hosted by the gallery owner the night before the opening in the exhibition space. I also recorded the sound of the gallery's shower, in the bathroom of the exhibition space. These sounds, contribute to the feeling of a most convivial and loving living environment!
It was an interesting acoustic addition and nice surprise to have diffused these sounds in the same resonant space to which they were recorded. It created a sonic unity and non-obtrusive quality which is at times difficult to achive when using ambient sound to accompany art and create a sonic environment.
To top off the sensory experience, Arik baked a cake in the gallery's kitchen for the opening, adding a warm and fabulous chocolate perfume to the evening!
As Arik said, we would all be better off, instead of saying to one another "Why don't you hug me?", we would just say, "Hug me!".
Here are a some images from the sound design programming for the exhibition.
Until February 12th, 2010.
Please contact me if you would like more information.
Best to all for a wonderful, loving New Year!
Here is Screenshot of the voice program, open for editing.
I have just completed a video/sound installation for designer, Arik Levy's solo exhibition for Swarovski at the Salone Internazionale del Mobile, in Milan. The team included myself on sound, Thomas Boaziz on video and Stéphane Maguet, owner of Numeriscausa, who oversaw the production of the project with the team at ldesign for Arik Levy..
Swarovski commissioned Arik Levy
to create an exhibition of work inspired by, and created with the
unique concept of crystal. Levy has created a series of installations that will illustrate the diversity of Swarovski crystal.
You can read more about it here, on this well documented design blog.
My part in this 800 square-meter exhibit was to create an interactive sound world which would accompany a 5x7 meter, 3D image of a diamond. This shape is constantly deformed, exploded and reconfigured according to various parameters and driven by people moving in front of the screen, around the defined space. I should be receiving images from the show very soon.
Below, I have posted some screenshots of the MaxMsp program which I made for the installation.
The program is made up of 8 stereo sound banks which are constantly playing back at different speeds, including different panning and various treatments, depending on the number of people and the activity of the spectators, as well as, the color of the diamond.
The sounds come mostly from samples of glass, crystal, ice, rocks, moving earth and bowed percussion instruments which I recorded in my studio. They are modified by 2 time-based harmonizers which change the pitch, sound quality (freq. modulation), delay and feedback.
The amazing space which Arik has conceived to expose his original works of art and design is 100 meters long by 8 meters wide. It flows, as the title of the expo suggests, and culminates with this huge video/sound world. A joyous and very physical experience! One shakes arms and legs, dances and jumps in front of the giant, floating, organic and other-worldly vessel which seems to crave our attention!!
Hope that you can make it.
Swarovski Crystal Palace ‘Osmosis’ by Arik Levy from 21st to 27th April 2009 Ex Magazzini Di Porta Genova Via Valenza 2, Milano
As part of the Beethoven Festival, Susanne Kessel, Markus Karas (organ) and I will present a concert devoted to Olivier Messiaen. A multi-faceted program in honor of Messiaen's 100th. year of birth including works by Debussy, Stockhausen, Kurtag, electronic and acoustic compositions by Leon Milo, among others complete this evening in a very personal portrait of this major French composer. The Bonn Munster cathedral with the great Klais organ is this the ideal venue for this concert.