Artefact#0, Digital Necrophony

Artefact#0, Digital Necrophony is an installation by Mathilde Lavenne that wants to be a meditation on the afterlife. Using a light sensor, the colour intensities on a black and white marble column are read and fed into the sound engine. Using marble, Laverne wants to convey a sense of solemnness.The installation’s sculptural form takes its inspiration from Edison’s cylindrical gramophone, and uses marble as etc sculptural material for its resemblance of a sarcophage, a strange, enigmatic element that represents death. Normals, the design team, refer as well to Edison’s Necrophone, a device to communicate with ghosts. The work was premiered at Panorama 18 in Fresnoy in 2016.


Data collection and mapping

Daniel Cabanzo, who designed the sound part of this installation, was kind to answer a few questions about the work. The installation uses an Arduino and a diode to read the light intensity of the marble (darkest= 0 and white= 1000). The data processing is done in two modes: in the writing stage, the diode moves around the marble, collects the data, and send those data to a MaxMSP patch, at a speed of one datapoint every 10 ms. In the reading has, when the diode and the marble are stationary, the data are read by a module in the patch. The data are smoothed so to get a datapoint for every 50 ms and finally, the data are processed at a random speed between 0 and 1500ms.

Sound synthesis

The sound is generated from white noise, which is controlled by the data, in four ways:

  1. In the writing mode, the data control filter banks between 10 Hz and 20000 Hz using Gaussian algorithms.
  2. The filtered sound is sent to another module that performs granular synthesis.
  3. In the reading mode, the data control the filtering through 24 bands, while the Q-factor and the amplitude of each band are controlled through aleatory values
  4. The data control resonators as wellEvery mode is linked to reverb modules which are bypassed randomly.

Daniel Cabanzo used MaxMSP and Ircam’s Diphone for the sound synthesis, while the data reading was done via an Arduino.

About the artists

Matilde Laverne is a French artist, specialising in emergent digital art, creating short films and installation art. As in archaeology, Laverne explores the discovery of one’s own history, lifting the veil of the earth. You can check more of her work here

Daniel Cabanzo is a Colombian composer working in the realm of electro-acoustic music and frequently collaborates with artists from other branches. Currently, he is pursuing a PhD in musicology at the Sorbonne University and IRCAM.

Normals is a design agency that works on the intersection of design and fiction. They create works in different forms that envisage a future that can either be distressing or desirable to the public.

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