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Entries in echolocation (1)

Sunday
Sep242017

RELIEF

This weekend was the annual TodaysArt festival in The Hague, Netherlands. TodaysArt has always been about how new ideas shape our daily lives. This year’s edition focused on technological advances that we cannot immediately understand anymore, such as the complex nature of algorithmic systems and automated data feeds that frame our daily lives.
Except for a conference programme, performances, and a club night, there were various exhibitions in various locations. One of the installation works that stuck with me was Mike Rijnierse & Bob Bothof’s RELIEF. Which, according to the description, is not a sound sculpture, but an echo sculpture. This is because RELIEF uses ultrasonic parametric speakers to project sound on tilted surfaces, letting the viewer experience sound as if it is coming from the sculpture itself, while it is being projected by a moving  ultrasound speaker array.
The ultrasonic speakers are in an array of small units that all emit very high, non-audible (ultrasonic) sound waves. Because they are in an array and interact and mix with each other, they can create audible frequencies which are very focused like a beam, making it very different than normal speakers which are audible everywhere and emanate all over the place.
By placing tilted surfaces before it, and moving the speaker array, you are able to experience the sculpture in audio in very much the same “tangible” way as experiencing it in physical space. It is very close to how blind people are able to navigate the world around them.