Looking Back on the Loughborough University Degree Show

A screenshot of the fnal program used in the degree show installation

What I showed at the Loughborough University Degree Show only deviated greatly from the plans I've outlined in previous posts in one respect: I decided to change site, after being advised that the construction work I had planned to carry out on the original site would be too time consuming and probably beyond my skill set.

I went from this,

to this:

This wasn't quite as bad as it may seem because the office was sparsely furnished and its dimensions were similar to those that the other space would have had, had the barriers been constructed. If anything, it was easier to justify using the smaller room.

I was adamant to follow through with my plan of not making the desktop hi-fi speakers I was using visible, as I thought this would be aesthetically sloppy and conceptually muddy. I ended up deciding to enhance the anthropomorphism of the speakers, that I had already planned to hint at by placing them at average human head height.

I came up with two separate designs. Both of them were intended to be white human sized boxes that would house speakers behind fabric screens.

With the first, I was initially unsure as to how I'd attach the wooden frame to the inside of the MDF box, in order to avoid any of the edge of the cloth showing. To sidestep this problem, I put together another design, in which a large piece of fabric would be stretched across a 3D frame.

This worked in theory, but in practise my workmanship was too poor and the fabric too creased. The first problem could have been solved with greater care and better tools, but the second was an insurmountable obstacle.

I returned to the first idea and worked out the system of two frames screwed together, one of them holding the stretched fabric and the other one sliding neatly into the MDF box. I was too busy to record the construction process; all I have is an image of the finished boxes, all painted white and positioned on top of the white vinyl flooring which I laid over the carpet (and a layer of hardboard).

It wasn't the fabric cube – whose only function was to be a confluence of sounds, to be shot through with virtual voices – I had hoped for, but I thought it was at least presentable in the context of a degree show.

Though it only occurred to me to capture footage for the last three days, of the installation, I got the impression my instillation was visited quite frequently. Some were amused, some puzzled and some underwhelmed. What pleased me was that in a lot of cases, my audience did end up discussing social identity, in a gallery-type setting, which is all I could really have hoped for.

Ultimately, most of what I build had to be disposed of, though some was recycled for the Free Range show.

Looking Forward to the Free Range Show

The work I'm showing at the Free Ranged show uses the same algorithm, but instead of having six speakers emitting synthesized speech from one conversation, three pairs of headphones will be emitting speech from three dialogues. These will have to be generated beforehand rather than being produced in real-time based on webcam input. I've made a new program, based on the previous one, to achieve this. I've also modified the program so that I can choose to include all the derogatory terms I omitted from the London show. At least those recordings won't go to waste, and hopefully I won't cause too much of a stir.

Unfortunately, because my program has become incredibly memory hungry, I have to limit each audio file to a couple of minutes, otherwise I end up with an OutOfMemory error.

In terms of presentation, I made a box out of some scraps of my boxes from the Loughborough show, that will hold my laptop. I've attached a rudimentary wooden headphone stand to this box. I'm unsure as to how successful this version of the piece will be.