Luc Döbereiner, Gerhard Eckel & Ludvig Elblaus
Constellations is an emergent, self-organising, public global sound art piece. It is an online installation that connects the visitors and the involved electro-acoustic transducers, digital devices, places, and acoustic environments in a network that mutates with every visitor who joins or leaves it. The installation consists solely of its visitors. With only one visitor the installation is silent. By connecting and shaping the acoustic flow of energy, and by guiding it towards feedback, the system goes from being complex to being unpredictable.
The distributed model of the network and the localized forms of listening make it impossible to even attempt to control the experience for an individual connected visitor. Instead, the visitors are welcome to explore and shape the system’s behavior by becoming a sounding and listening node in the network, putting whatever they want in the feedback loop on their local end. Participants can choose to be quiet or actively contribute sounds to be dispersed in the network, but the act of connecting one’s acoustic space to the others is already a contribution that will affect everyone’s experience.
Constellations i s both a subversion and a repurposing of web communication technology in order to create conditions for the indeterminate emergence of non-hierarchical structures.
This work has been supported in the context of the artistic research project Inter_agency: Composing Sonic Human-Computer Agent Networks (https://interagency.iem.at) funded by the FWF Austrian Science Fund (PEEK AR 483), and by the NAVET center at the KTH Royal Institute of Technology (https://www.kth.se/navet).
Constellations can be experienced using most contemporary devices that have a web browser, a microphone, and loudspeakers, e.g. a laptop or a smartphone. Headphones can be used, but we encourage the use of loudspeakers to incorporate the users’ acoustic surroundings in the piece. When prompted, access to the device’s microphone must be granted for the installation to work.
Specifically, Constellations has been tested on recent versions of macOS (Firefox, Chrome, Safari), Windows (Firefox, Chrome, Edge), and Debian/Ubuntu (Firefox, Chrome), as well as iOS (Safari) and Android (Firefox, Chrome). Older versions and other systems might also work.