Composers and poets, during the first two decades of the 20th century, had an enormous fascination with noise. The RUMOER!-festival wanted to reflect this fear and fascination. Because based on the unfamiliar sounds of the industrialized society and the impressive sounds of World War I, very innovative art and music were created in that time. By means of classical music performances, the festival showed how composers today listen to their world. These concerts were interlaced with theatre performances and the event also accommodated some very special sound installations: strange instruments and "noise machines" playfully combining image and sound as means of expression and using the boundaries of noise and music as a theme to create an exciting experience.
'Elegy for forgotten sounds' is one of these very special "sound machines" presented during the Rumoer!-happening. This indoor work of art, created by Elias Vervecken and co-developed by the Ghent designer duo Ann and Jeroen from Studio Simple, will be added (in the course of next year) to the permanent collection of the Bruges Concert Hall. Sound actor Elias Vervecken came up with a unique concept: visitors can create noise (or is it music?) on ammunition from the 1st World War with a set of timpani sticks. For this purpose, shells of different sizes were hung on the remains of a tree, standing like a wounded witness on the battlefield. The aesthetic simplicity, however, conceals an ingenious technological tour de force because the team of The Reference added an extra interesting layer to the work. Sound artist Elias Vervecken created mixed and linked diverse sounds and even actions from the reality of the war of '14 -'18 to the installation. Via a mobile app these sounds and actions are activated by the coming and going of visitors, and finally merge into a thunderous reality immersing visitors in a real war scene.
"To make these sounds of the First World War interactive and vibrant we've built a mobile application running on an iPhone device and we have used a set of iBeacons" says Thomas De Vos, Mobile & Innovation Consultant at The Reference. "iBeacons are typically placed at strategic locations where a specific action needs to be triggered on a smartphone. When a person comes near an iBeacon, his/her smartphone detects this because the Bluetooth signal becomes stronger. This way, on the basis of the location of the receiver, a promotion or information could be offered, suggestions and recommendations could be provided or a visitor could receive indications to be able to use the shortest path to its target in a shop environment. iBeacons offer countless creative possibilities for business applications. The sky is the limit. And the only thing needed for this is this small transmitter and an app on your visitor's smartphone."
"In the specific application for the Concertgebouw Brugge, we have reversed the entire concept. In this work of art, the iBeacons move around while the iPhone is at a fixed location. The transmitters are installed in 5 different timpani sticks. People can walk around with these sticks. The iPhone constantly measures the distance from the iBeacons to the tree and provides all the smart logic for this project: the sound library of Elias is activated based on the distance of each participant holding a stick, and becomes an explosive avalanche of sounds, evoking a realistic image of what the ears of civilians and soldiers during World War I must have been exposed to. In addition to all the different sounds, the iPhone even activates a smoke machine when a certain combination of the sticks is made. The visitors will be overwhelmed by what they hear and see. We are extremely honoured that our team was able to contribute, with this beautiful piece of mobile technology, to this unique and impressive work of art."
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