Protection

A reactive space

Protection
Protection is a reactive space communicating two different emotional states of chaos and tranquillity in the form of a sonic and visual experience.

The user explores a dark room only lighted by a few light bulbs and a large umbrella. Surrounding sounds create a quiet and mysterious ambiance of water drops falling in a reverberating cave, and indistinct whispers are emitted from the umbrella. When stepping under the umbrella, the user triggers a physical and auditive storm all around him, from an intensity proportional to the number of people under the umbrella. Wind, heavy rain and lightning sounds, together with the shaking and flickering of the lights, add together to create an eerie atmosphere. 

The umbrella acts as a safe place where people can gather to escape the storm, whereas its surroundings become more and more aggressive. The level of the storm increasing, people tend to search protection under the umbrella, thus increasing again the storm, creating a positive feedback. In this installation, the user experiments the paradoxical feeling of triggering a phenomenon that, himself, he tries to escape.

Protection was presented during the ALT//Language exhibition in London at the Shoreditch Town Hall in October 2010.

For this project, I worked on the concept (the creation of two very different atmospheres only with sounds and lights) and its realization with Madeleine Theofilopoulou. Sounds synthesis and spatialization were programmed by Federico Petrei (MaxMsp).

Making of
3D vizualisation and space prototyping for Protection.
We first created a plaster template of our light bulb, before making six replicates with a vacuum moulding machine.
The plastic bulbs are filled with several blue LEDs, which behavior change according to the experienced atmosphere: gently flickering as a candle during rest, jerky and vibrant during the storm.
Three light bulbs are hanged from the ceiling around the installation space. They are connected to independent servo motors which are activated during the storm and make them shake and swing. 
A speaker placed inside the umbrella emits sounds of mysterious whispers, which are part of the spooky atmosphere. They are also used as a bait for the intrigued user, attracting him below the umbrella.
The interactive umbrella is lighted with several LEDs which behavior change during the storm.
We used four pressure pads placed under the umbrella to detect when people stop under it. The storm has four levels of intensity: the more people gather under the umbrella, the stronger the storm around them will get.
An Arduino was used to collect the data from the pressure pads. Data is sent to MaxMsp, which then controls three speakers spatializing the sound and the umbrella speaker, together with the behavior of the lights inside the bulbs and the umbrella.
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