Visitors wear digital 'capes' to create sound in new installation

Issue date: 17 September 2012

Visitors to an interactive sound installation, Tracking You at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Digital DesignWeekend, 22-23 September [2012], will be invited to put on capes featuring the latest real-time location systems technology. When they move around the installation sounds will be generated as a result of their location in relation to other visitors. The Digital Design Weekend last year attracted over 7,300 visitors.

Tracking You is created by artist Tine Bech, (Digital Cultures Research Centre (DCRC), UWE, Bristol) and Tom Mitchell (Senior lecturer and researcher at UWE, Bristol).

Tracking You is interactive and uses participants' movements to generate sound. The capes that people are invited to wear are augmented with tracked RFID (radio frequency identification) tags. Visitors can choose between five beautiful silk capes printed with a digital pattern in different colours. Each cape has its own sound profile and participants can shoot each other or find a secret applause zone in the 'invisible' sound space.

Tine says, “This work connects the human body, with technology and sound to create a playful interactive installation. By using real-time position technology we are able to track the capes and generate sounds depending on where people are in the space and where they are according to each other. This enables visitors to take part in generating the art work. The work aims to encourage people to participate and I hope they will experience a sense of play and collaboration in the gallery space. I believe that play is a persuasive and powerful tool. It can change people's behaviour and inspire audiences to interact, rather than simply observe. I think Tracking You can inspire people to see the latest technologies creative sides as well as its practical applications.”

Tine is working with Ubisense, a market leader in precise real-time location systems (RTLS) who is sponsoring the technology used in the installation. The system combines an ultra-wideband (UWB) technology platform with a real-time software solution, to provide an automatic, location-aware, computing platform. This is at the forefront of technology and only a small number of artists are, as yet, actively utilising its capabilities.

The installation is co-developed with Tom Mitchell from Computer Science and Creative Technologies, UWE, Bristol. Tine and Tom are creating and testing the work at the Pervasive Media Studio at the Watershed, Bristol, which is the home of the DCRC. Members of the Pervasive Media Studio provide feedback and input to the project.

DCRC are supporting the development of the project. It is an excellent example of the type of work that is emerging as a result of UWE's ongoing creative technologies collaboration with the Watershed.

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