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LYDLAG (Soundlayers)

Interactive Sound Installation

In the stairway and foyer at Den Anden Opera (now PLEX)

May 2004


The installation is built around a computer-controlled multi-speaker setup with 8 speakers. The 8 speakers are located in the stairwell of Dan Anden Opera. Each speaker adds a new layer to the total sound in space. Depending on where you are listening from the various layers will be near or distant, some may not even be audible. The computer-processed sounds are influenced by the sounds made by the audience when they move in the staircase. When there is quiet on the stairs the sounds are calm while many feet and voices on the staircase gives a more turbulent sound.

LYDLAG operates on 3 levels:

1. Space Definition.
The sound of the speakers fill the room with sound, and create  a description of the room in the audience mind. Man's ability to address sound is amazing. This soundanalyze is happening quite unconsciously. Soundinput from a room gives people information about the room size and material, etc.. Sound moving around corners may enhance the listener's perception of space. It is not possible to overlook a staircase visually, because the space is bent and twisted, but the sound can give a sense of the distance.

2. Sounds coloring of space
The sound emitted from speakers sound differently depending on where in space you listen from. A sound produced by a speaker a few floors away sounds different than the one located close to the listener. It would alsosound differently if the installation was placed in another staircase. The color of the sound therefore is depended of the listener's location / motion in space. In normal listening situations, you try to avoid this spatial coloration of the sound, and try to get as close to the original sound. LYDLAG does the opposite. By working consciously with soundcoloring of space, you can achieve a much better integration between sound and space.

3. Integration between the audience and the installation itself
Finally, the audience can not avoid contributing to the overall sound. Steps, talking and coughing will be part of the sounds on the staircase. Audience sounds are recorded by microphones and sent to the computer. Here they are used to affect the sounds in the speakers and they are recorded and mixed with the other sounds and sent out through the speakers.

jbrandtp has for years worked with sound in stairwells. These often neglected spaces are exciting for aural experiments. jbrandtp's intension is to provide these spaces renewed interest and open the ears to the sound of unfamiliar contexts and locations.