SPATIAL SOUNDS (100dB at 100km/h) 2000/2001

Spatial Sounds (100dB at 100km/h) is an interactive audio installation by Marnix de Nijs and Edwin van der Heide. In this engine-powered work, a speaker is mounted onto a rotating arm that is several meters long. Like a watchdog, the machine scans the surrounding space for visitors and you had better step back, well out of reach. You will hear the sound of the mighty motor revving up; turning over and over; faster and faster. You will feel the displacement of air as the speaker rushes past you. The initial precaution soon wears off once the machine slows down and you are compelled to explore the space. You discover that your movements actually manipulate the sounds and determine the speaker’s motion but remember don’t let your guard down because Spatial Sounds (100dB at 100km/h) is building a physical and tangible bond with you. After all it’s a game of attraction and repulsion between machine and visitor and with a rotating arm swinging with such force and power, closer investigation could be simply tempting fate.

The Installation:
Spatial Sounds (100dB at 100km/h) is an installation which comprises of a speaker on a long armature with a counter weight on the other end. The arm is able to spin and is variably controlled from a very slow to a maximum speed of 100 km/hour. A high speed distance sensor, mounted close to the speaker, is constantly measuring from the arm to a point in the surrounding area. It scans the objects and audience. Due to its spinning action it creates a spatial description of the enclosure. The result is a continuous and dynamic map transformation quite similar to that of the traditional radar trace.

Spatial Sounds (100dB at 100km/h) also has strong behavioural patterns and an intelligent disposition. The arm not only spins at varying speeds but also makes very distinct movements in all directions. The sensor makes it possible to detect exactly how close and where the onlooker is in relationship to the arm. Left to it’s own devices Spatial Sounds (100dB at 100km/h) would exist and scan as a course of nature, making inspective movements and generating infinitely short but loud pulses as it 'listens' to the reflections of the empty space. A diverse composition of varying frequency ranges and rhythmical patterns. When people enter the room they are immediately detected and the machine is directly influenced. It reacts both musically and with gestures. The sounds are related to both the arm position and the dynamic 'map' of the space and of course the human intruder and hence this becomes a very physical experience for the onlooker. The speaker will generate a specific sound when it is pointing towards a particular person. This also works on a multiple level when there are more people in the room. And it’s just these sounds and the movements of the arm that tempt the public to move through the space to interact with and explore Spatial Sounds (100dB at 100km/h) at a quite often too close for comfort distance

spatial sounds
spatial sounds

Photo left by Rob 't Hart, Rotterdam ; photo right by Edwin van der Heide

Marnix de Nijs © 2022