Deleuze asserts that “grass grows from the middle”, and not from beneath or from above. This could be applied to artists whose main concern is the world and the context in which they create. Marnix de Nijs and Edwin van der Heide, authors of the interactive audio-installation Spatial Sounds are true offspring of their environment — a highly technologically developed and crowded world of com-munication in which cyber-identities are possible. Since machines (phone, computer, cell phone, car, plane) are platforms and media-tors of a swifter and more effective communication, the authors of Spatial Sounds have decided to invent one. Their creation is a para-digm of itself, one questioning the present-day role of the machine.
The Spatial Sounds installation is similar to contemporary music devices, ones meant not exclusively for reproduction, but for real-time interactive composing of sound sequences as well. It is also has the characteristics of a car or some other robot — it moves, accele-rating to 100km/h, rotating around its axis in a Sisyphus-like trajec-tory.
Finally, it can be compared to surveillance devices, since it depends on this technology in order to establish communication with the viewer. It is a project of a time in which the supervision society — as defined by Foucault — becomes one of technology-mediated control. A time in which prisons — the embodiment of dis-cipline and surveillance, Panoptikon — are gradually replaced by machines that allow you to enter a space only if you have the right password, fingerprint, colour of voice or genetic code.
What is Marnix de Nijs and Edwin van der Heide’s answer to a fundamental question of contemporary society, the one regarding the relationship of machine and man? Their installation perfectly illustrates Lacan’s thesis about the nonexistent, yet active relation (a thesis Lacan applied to gender-relations). The fact that the man-machine relation is absent cannot prevent man from imagining one, even though the machine, possessing neither cognitive nor emotio-nal capacities, does not try to establish communication but simply to execute what it has been programmed for.