Diasynchronosity: You have to be there

Posted on 7 July 2013
A black acoustic cube is the central element of Stylus: a new kinetic sculpture by TROPE@ Goldsmiths and soundscape artist Martyn Ware.

A black acoustic cube is the central element of Stylus: a new kinetic sculpture by TROPE (Goldsmiths) and soundscape artist Martyn Ware.

What goes on in the computing department of one of the world’s leading art research institutions?

We could expect strange scenarios evolving in video realms, and surreal music exhaling from artificial instruments. But not all digitally sophisticated researchers at the University of London’s Goldsmiths College of Art (my new research base) are disconnected from reality.

Goldsmiths’ TROPE team – Carol Macgillivray and Bruno Mathez, with Professor Frederic Fol Leymarie – aim to synchronize human perceptions of physical 3D structures with digital surround sounds. Their laboratory is a black cell in a labyrinth of plywood corridors beside the New Cross train station and A2 motorway – in an old warehouse off the college campus on the south side of the Thames. This is Ground Zero for TROPE’s DiaSynchronoscope project.

In their intimate yet infinite domain, Carol and Bruno play with the minds of unsuspecting intruders. Like magicians, they use simple props: a set of small white polystyrene cubes threaded along a curve of steel wire. These appear to jump under strobe lights linked to speakers, all auto-controlled from a Macbook.

For TROPE’s latest performances of ‘hybrid marriages’ between digital and analogue audio-visuals, Carol and Bruno are using a much larger foam cube as the central element of their kinetic sculpture, and have collaborated with experimental musician Martyn Ware, one of the world’s leading innovators of soundscapes in urban environments. Ware says he has ‘never seen anything quite like this before’ and suggests it is ‘a signpost to the future’.

Their production, Stylus, uses diamonds and ice as conceptual themes suggesting cutting edge precision: listen to the TROPE audio track (composed by Mathez) here. Presented first at the Music Tech festival in Ravensbourne 17-19 May 2013, Stylus is being performed again at Studio 3, Goldsmiths Department of Theatre and Performance, during afternoons and evenings 19-28 July. Ware and his team are lending equipment and expertise to convert TROPE’s audio track into a 3D soundscape in physical space.

Mathez explains the concept with more technical detail. ‘The Diasynchronoscope employs a simple technique to create animation out of inanimate objects. Each sculptural installation is composed of objects arranged in space so as to represent the unfolding of an animation over time. The objects are then lit selectively and sequentially, unveiling one object at a time, thereby creating the embodied equivalent to an animated cartoon. The observer is placed inside the scene, and perceives a continuity in the interaction of the object with the environment.

‘It creates unmediated apparent motion that does not involve a lens or a screen. The perceived experience is of real objects moving in an ecological environment’, he says.