The visitor travels up the narrow dirt road towards the
glen surrounded by trees. As she enters, the mist emanating from the 12-foot
waterfall cools her brow.
She is surrounded by tall baobab trees, and the grassy
area is littered with rocks and flowers. Drawn into a quiet meditation,
she is startled by an apparition that appears within the waterfall, shifting
slightly with the flow of liquid.
Welcome,, it bellows, and its voice seems
to come from all around her. The sound of birds increases in volume, she
hears a drumming sound like the marching of soldiers with a thousand feet,
and other acoustic anomalies she cannot place swirl in her ears. The spirit
hovers and gestures in the mist as it speaks to her, guiding her around
the space. As she stoops to inspect a flower, he tells her what it might
mean. As she moves to the other edge of the glen, he warns against looking
to the shadows. Finally, the spirit identifies itself as Eshu, spirit
of the crossroads, and offers her a departing wisdom, (something like
be careful, things are not what they seem). A visitation from
the gods? Temporal lobe epilepsy? Neither. This is the experience of Convergence.
Convergence is an installation hidden within an organic
space. One visitor at a time enters the space. It is a 30 x30
sort of knoll/grove type thing, surrounded by trees. At its center is
a giant rock from which flows a 12-foot waterfall. On the grass nearby
are scattered stones and flowers.
The waterfall is actually computer controlled, allowing the water droplets
to fall so precisely that they create vivid graphic images and words.
The shapes appear to move because each frame resembles a frame in a strip
of movie film. The computer that controls the waterfall is hidden in the
back of the rock, and controlled via the internet using commercial remote
access software. Thus Eshu is given form and life.
Within the trees are numerous small wireless speakers,
also computer controlled, that emit magnified environmental sounds and
the voice of the spirit, distributed throughout the space. The sandstone
rocks and flowers have low-cost sensors in them motion sensors
in the rocks and light sensors that utilize the biosensing capabilities
of plants. Thus the speed and position of the visitors shadow can
be determined, and this information triggers the various sound scripts
activated during the installation.
All of this is coordinated remotely. Using Free Space Optics, wireless
internet transmissions are sent from a control center to the installation
using the visible light spectrum. The data sent includes the various Eshu
animations as well as the sound scripts, which are dynamically assigned
based on the sensor input.
As you can see, this is extremely technologically complex, but the final
project renders this technology nearly invisible. Technology does not
have to replace organic, natural space. Rather, it is an extension of
that space, and there are myriad possibilities for coexistence which have
not been explored.
Computer-controlled waterfall: Pevnick Design, www.pevnickdesign.com.
Thanks to Stephen Pevnick for answering my inquiry about internet control.
Also Yuki Sugiharas water dome (http://www.star.t.u-tokyo.ac.jp/~yuki/)
is a good example of the sensual possiblities of water-projected images.
Thanks to Yuki for advice on affecting people through all five senses.
Free Space Optics (FSO) Terabeam and Powerbeat are two of the leading
companies in the field. www.terabeam.com