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WimiCam (2006-2007)

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Introduction

Parallel to the setting up and development of the Locus stream project Locus Sonus lab started a simultaneous and complementary line of experimentation related to the capture and amplification of sound in relatively local space, an audio survey so to speak of a limited perimeter around the amplification point, the auditors position. The intention here was to experiment with making the sound flux mobile, as a counterpoint to the "Locustream" project where the capture position is fixed. Inverting the principal behind the open microphone proposal by linking the point of capture to the deambulation of a person (performer) the sound flux becomes a subjective selection and therefore a personal representation of that space offered by the person manipulating the microphone. The hypothesis being is that as we (humans) render our own personal sound space mobile, via the use of cellular phones, laptop computers, ipods etc. Could this very principal become the basis for an artistic practice? Taking as reference, musical and artistic projects based on live sampling such as those practiced by the Kaffe Mathews but also performance works using real time improvised narration (Laurie Anderson (find ref) and to a certain extent narrative principals developed by such artists as Janet Cardiff in her sound walks, Locus Sonus experimented using wireless radio microphones and headphones, concentrating, in the first instance, on the area imposed by the limits of transmission as a territory to work within.



!!FM Microphone

The microphone used for this work is the SENNHEISER EW152 sold as a "tie pin" microphone the transmitter can also accommodate other types of microphone (handheld voice microphones, electret field mikes etc).

The first experiments which took place at ESAA involved moving the microphone from one location to another at regular intervals but leaving it in place and "remixing" from a fixed position the captured sound along with other sounds produced locally or taken from remote streams. It was found that as with the open microphone streams, the audio content tended to be rather uneventful or at least unpredictable in terms of when and what sounds where going to be captured and to what degree they would be "performable" material. This led to the use of the mobile microphone in a handheld context.



Experiments with narration :

During one session at ESAA we attempted to develop a protocol tracing the area outlined by the transmission limits using descriptive narration. The performer with the mobile microphone (Esther Salmona) left the space where the sound diffusion was taking place and wandered around the surrounding area. Out of sight, her participation in the ongoing improvisation took the form of vocal presence as she described the environment she was experiencing. This principal was included in a public presentation of Locus Sonus work in progress at the Villa Arson in April 2006 although this principal showed promise it was put to one side as other forms were developed, notably Esther's journal des streams.



Live sampling :

During that same early session Lydwine Van der Hulst (a musician) used the mobile microphone to "sound out" the designated environment capturing acoustic phenomena and "playing" with sound producing objects while other members of the group operated on the sounds using digital processing techniques "orchestrating" them in real time. It is more this principal which has been developed subsequently.



Rotating Parabola :

Locus Sonus first used parabolic dishes to increase the directionality and the sensitivity of small electret microphones, adapting them for a better functionality as open microphones for the Locustream project. Becoming interested by the spatial possibilities offered by the focusing capabilities of parabola we made a prototype machine which combined a rotating parabola with digital sound spatialization using 8 loudspeakers. The auditors where invited to position themselves in the center of the circle of loudspeakers from this position it was possible to hear a seamless 360° audio pan synchronized with the mechanical movement of the parabola. The circle of loudspeakers was positioned within the exhibition space in such a way as to enable the listener to perceive the microphone visually through the adjacent window as it rotated at a distance of some 30m outside the exhibition space. Aside from the interest provoked by the phenomena of perceiving the distant movement of the microphone while experiencing the sound it captured from a separate space the interest also developed in the acoustic phenomena (filtering sweep) related to the movement of the parabola.



WimiCam 1 :

In response to these various experiments Locus Sonus built a first prototype of a wireless parabolic microphone and cam in July 2006.

(Images)

A wifi webcam (in-fact a compact streaming server) was added to the parabolic dish, the visual field of the camera representing roughly the same window as that of the directional microphone. The image from the camera can be accessed over the internet. For the first version of the Wimicam it was decided to create two examples of the object in order to enable a duplex performance or concert based on an encounter between two distant spaces. The audio interpretation of each space was assumed by a team of two people, the first manipulating the Wimicam and the second processing the captured signal and streaming it to the distant location. Monitoring was available for the 4 performers (through wireless headphones for the person holding the microphone) not only of the composition from the local space but also of the stream from the distant space.

(diagram)

“Je m'empare de la « Wimicam » pour découvrir l'environnement sonore qui m'entoure, et en révéler le pouvoir musical. Des gestes se précisent (le mouvement rapide de la parabole dans l'air, le déplacement plus ou moins rapide dans l'espace ) et font naître des petites narrations. Une performance avec cette interface de jeu est présentée en duplex lors du « road show » New Yorkais. Une partie de l’équipe joue depuis le Roebling Bridge (Pensylvanie), l'autre dans une galerie d'art à "Triangle Below Canal Street"(NYC).
Je ballade la « Wimicam »dans le quartier, je « pioche », saisis les ambiances et Peter Sinclair les retraite en direct, dans la galerie. La rue devient une véritable source d'orchestration sonore, en temps réel.
Je mêle spontanément des voix, des bruits de pas, des sons de voitures, d'oiseaux, d'avion; je saisis l'énergie bouillonnante du quartier pour la retransmettre dans les différents lieux connectés à mon flux. / History-->