Chromatic Nocturne

Year: 2016
Medium: generative audio-visual installation, LEDs, umbrellas, 8 channel audio system


“Chromatic Nocturne” is a generative audio-visual installation in series of Lightscape project, focuses on the relationship between sensory experience and external structures within the city. The daily movings and behaviours in the public spaces shaped our memories of the city. Different streets and routes evoke the variety of urban life, which are the elements that constructed the collective memory. This work attempts to receive and transform the artificial lights during the nighttime in urban areas as the main elements to be represented as the sounds, moving images, and performative utterances. During the execution period of the project, we will collect the images and sounds from artificial light sources and human activities around the city through the changes of light and shadow, in order to explore the relationship between the city as interface and artificial lights, and in what way people perceive it. The route we choice would be like the music notation or scoring and the repetition of the streetlights and traffic lights are similar to the motive and phrase in a composition.

Modern societies and cities maintain their order through quantization and standardization. The lighting system allows people to take advantage of the nighttime to expand the leisure and economic activities, no longer confined to sunrise and sunset as well as seasonal weather and other natural rhythms, also has nothing to do with personal feelings and differences in lifestyle. For this reason, people finally have the ability to follow, to schedule all the tasks in their "daily life” as the routine. There are clear expectations for when to do what. Noise is usually chaotic and disorderly, while organized noise (organisation du bruit) is a mirror, reflecting the reflection of society, and has the power to predict the future. How we interpret, organize, reproduce, and use sound are artifacts of ritualized processes. In turn, these aural structures interact with the city in light rich spaces, where people and activities concentrate and take form through sound. People instinctively avoid the dark, using the presence or absence of light to indirectly controlling and disciplining urban sound, thereby creating light’s sensory mirror. 

These artificial lights not only play the role as functional instructions, but also the cultural symbols like the collective memory sharing by people living in modernized cities. This audio-visual installation creates an immersive environment that illustrates this "everyday feeling”, at the mean time implies the discipline and regulation behind it. This program will bring together elements of light and sound from different routes within the city, each masking the other, and serving as the basis for visual and aural interaction as manifest in video and installation.

The generative music system developed in Max/MSP transformed the flow of light points in the panoramic video into corresponding resonances, amplified through 8 speakers independently. The changes of the lights in the video trigged sine wave oscillators and produced the ambient sound in different dynamics and frequencies according to its trends and patterns. The moving image will be masked by the parameters retrieved from the field recording in synchronized with the data collecting process. With the multichannel audio configuration, the music comes from various directions in an ambisonic setting, which reflects how individual sensing the surrounding environment.