Bonsai: Interactive AudioVisual Installation designed in Max/MSP/Jitter
Bonsai is a full-room, interactive audiovisual installation that explores self-awareness, our relationship to the natural world, and the manner in which our individual and group actions influence the surrounding environment. The work uses interactivity as a strategy to encourage self-awareness and perception, relating to the Taoist principles of action versus non-action, interference, and nothingness. Reflecting our present-day civilization, the viewers’ influence on the ongoing development of the work is sometimes apparent and sometimes hidden.
Bonsai uses infrared cameras to recognize and quantify the motion of audience members. This interactive data is then used to manipulate the installation’s audiovisual components. Without active participants, a default state of the audiovisual material exists to offer a framework for comparison against moments of influence. The default state features images of flora along a river bank, showing the calm yet subtlety irregular movement; in balance and reflecting the forces of the wind. Accompanying audio engages you with a spacious, folk-like melody of plucked strings, chimes and atmospheric sounds, eliciting a peaceful state of mind. This state is maintained if passive observers keep themselves to the room’s area of non-activity; a perimeter surrounding the interactive space which allows the observation of non-influence.
As the viewer steps over the threshold and into the interactive area of the room, the soundscape changes in pitch, note density, and tempo, while the visuals alter in color palette, mosaic appearance, blurred distortion, and playback speed. As more and more participants enter the space, their combined influence affects the output with increasingly discordant audio and distorted, chaotic visuals. The environment becomes one of uneasiness, and is wildly unpredictable. To draw participants into a greater level of self-awareness, motion captured within different subsections of the interactive space, are utilized to control independent elements of the audiovisual presentation. Will participants consciously form into groups to discern their specific role in the installation? Will they split up and try to coordinate an intended influence of their liking? Regardless of the outcome, both active and passive observers are given an opportunity to reflect on how others perceive, direct, and perform their influence.
If you are interested in this installation, please contact me.