Both 'A position between two curves' at Tate Britain (Feb-May 2003) and 'Stairwell (untitled)' at ICC Tokyo employ a double version of the basic technology of 'The Listening Room'. The two complete systems are electronically independent, their relationship is acoustic as they pick up the sound of each other within the installation space and react accordingly. This creates a constantly shifting balance of sound as the systems interrupt and interfere with each other's cycles of feedback. Both of these installations use a fairly fast time setting on the noise gate for a number of reasons:
1 - This makes the system more robust, Tate in particular had to cope with a wide range of background sound levels, aeroplanes, traffic as well as variations in the number of visitors which could vary from a large school group to a single individual. Outside the gallery, expectations are different and the work could not claim the time and passivity associated with the Listening Room. The Tokyo Stairwell had to cope with sound from other work in adjacent gallery spaces leaking into the installation. The characteristics of the Listening Room works are present, but made apparent in a different form.
2- Any imbalance in the system becomes immediately apparent so that the work is open to reading or decoding (by those that choose to do so).
Despite this more robust (and consequently relatively louder) system, in both Tate Britain and ICC I was careful to set up the system so that the movement and sound of people within each space produced a quantifiable and identifiable response from the behaviour of the installation.
A key difference between these two installations is the use of symmetry. Tate Britain's Manton entrance is architecturally symmetrical and the installation followed this pattern, two identical systems placed in a mirror-image relationship. The Stairwell at ICC is asymmetric in shape and the placement of the double system was correspondingly asymmetric, one loudspeaker on a wall, the other mounted high above the entrance to the stairwell. The microphones were on a fire door facing the entrance and on the middle wall of the space so that the two systems had a significantly different response to the space, the wall mounted speaker performing rhythmic bursts of the lower resonant frequencies of the space, the higher speaker operating with middle frequencies, the systems interrupting each other in an apparently irregular complex rhythm.
Stairwell, ICC, Tokyo
A position between two curves, Tate Britain
see also the development of the triple system:
A documentary fragment of a moment within the Tate Britain installation, recorded on 13 February 2003
click on the speaker image
Listening to the Architecture, Clerkenwell Magistrates' Court, London August 2003