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Listening Sphere for Garage Museum of Contemporary Art

In November 2014 Hello Computer team was comissioned with a creating of an experimental sound installation for the famous Moscow museum of modern art — Garage gallery yearly exhibition called “Art Experiment”. Listening Sphere for the “32 questions from Cage” art experiment (dedicated to art and philosophy of an avant-garde musician John Cage) became a real challenge for us. The idea was to use only sound, steel, and buttons to build an interactive object for people to experiment with. The team was really excited with a process of building a 150-pound interactive sphere.

The Sphere is a deep dive in the nature of sound and human interaction. But also it’s a bold and corageous engineering experiment and a study of modern technologies used in the context of an art space. We didn’t introduce any rules of interaction with the Sphere intentionally — letting people invent new ways and algorithms of how to interact with it all by themselves.

At first, the giant listening sphere is still and silent. But when someone presses a button, installation goes live and starts recording every sound it hears. While being rolled Sphere plays ten last sound samples simultaneously. Basically, our main idea was to give visitors an opportunity to create a soul via sound — as, for example, a strange mix of voices adds individuality and a spark of life to the lifeless object.

Rigid body made of steel triangles composed in clusters of five, 6-channel sound output, five mics, 54 speakers, fully-autonomus construction.
On air

Custom battery was made to provide a three-hour lifespan for the installation. A team of engineers was also been able to decrease the charging time to 25 minutes.

Rolling

Each person interacting with a ball became sort of a creative boost for those who came after. New samples overlapped with the old ones, sometimes adding new meaning to phrases accidentally clued together.

Some people barked in the mic, some told political slogans, and some just used audio on their smartphones to add new samples to the Listening Sphere.

Kids love it too!

It was alive and kicking for as long as the Art Experiment itself — four weeks. All this time it was constantly rolled, it listened and played sound with a pressing timetable: three of two and a half hours long sessions per day.

Hello Computer with the Listening Sphere

Listening Sphere was one of the most interesting and advanced — both technically and conceptually — projects of 2014. But there’s more projects on their way, and we’d love to share them with you. Stay tuned!

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