Markus Decker (AT), Dietmar Offenhuber (AT) From Dust Till Dawn - fun with lasers, noise and dirt

interactive sound installation, 2008

From Dust Till Dawn kicks up a lot of dust and produces noise in the form of acoustic trace - with atmosphere being its sole medium of interaction. The project is a sound installation for a room with a dusty floor, on which a number of phonographs are placed, playing back silent vinyl records. As a result of the visitors’ movements, particles of dust accumulate in the grooves of empty records and define a musical score. A carpet of monochromatic light visualizes the turbulence in the atmosphere and detects its ephemeral structures, which are directly linked to the noise generated by the dusty records. Over time, the physical impact of the interaction irreversibly consumes the interface and destroys the needles of the phonographs.

Dust behaves unpredictably and is difficult to control. Besides, it is not especially popular, being regarded as ‘dirt’ in our culture. As elusive as time seems to us, it nevertheless leaves physical traces in the form of dust. The dust and atmosphere in the empty room form the installation’s interactive medium. Dust is identified by a surface laser and a photographic identification system and becomes a highly unusual means of interaction. A grid of line lasers installed just above the floor produces a homogeneous carpet of light which is at first invisible. Objects and particles that pierce this carpet, such as dust, cigarette smoke or larger objects, become visible in the laser beams as a silhouette or an outline. The outlines and dust patterns are recorded and their two-dimensional movements converted to sound on an xy raster synthesizer. Every step the visitor makes - indeed, his or her mere presence - sets the air moving and causes dust to swirl up.

From Dust Till Dawn deals with a fragile, barely controllable, interactive medium and robs the term tangible media of its intangibility. The installation immerses the visitor in a synesthetic experience where movement through space, vision, sound and dust meet in unpredictable ways.

Markus Decker (AT)

Since 1998, Markus Decker is operator of the netgroup firstfloor electronix, producing netcasts and free experiments with audio. He has been working in several collaborative situations on experimental media. For projects and more detailed information go to http://firstfloor.org/ae.

Dietmar Offenhuber (AT)

Dietmar Offenhuber studied architecture at the Vienna University of Technology and media art and sciences at the MIT Media Lab. Since 2008 he is professor at the Art University Linz and key researcher for information visualization at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for Media art Research.