Call and Response

Call & Response

Bringing sound to life

Call & Response is an interactive installation that translates audio input from gallery participants into projected visuals.

Call & Response was born from a shared love of music and technology between myself, Andrew Allred and Chris Wininger. We debuted this project earlier this year at the Lexington Art League as a part of the Expanding Fields Exhibition.

For this installation, a microphone is placed in front of a projection onto a blank white wall. The microphone detects ambient sounds and visuals, while showing a prompt that invites the participant to make more intentional sounds into the microphone. Once a sound is made into the mic, that sound is processed into a visual that’s projected onto the screen. As the sounds change, the visuals change in response.

For example, when the microphone detects talking, the default white bubbles begin to grow. As the microphone detects tonal sounds, like melodic speaking or singing, the bubbles begin to change into vibrant colors. As any of these sounds are sustained, the bubbles continue to grow, encouraging more interaction. Finally, snapping and clapping sounds change the color scheme completely. Read Chris' excellent write-up on the technical side here.

We wanted to use the gallery space to not only invite people to explore the relationship between seen and heard but to challenge the assumption that galleries are for observation only. Instead, we proposed that the gallery is a space to explore, make noise, to project your own interpretations straight onto the blank wall.

We were thrilled to see this project come to life at Lexington Art League, and to observe how it was used by gallery-goers. Originally we had intended for it to coax people into singing, but we found that people were most comfortable clapping and snapping into the microphone, and that the resulting color scheme change was the most satisfying interaction. We look forward to iterating on this project and making it even more immersive!

See more videos of Call & Response here. And for a live performance iteration, here's a video of me using Call & Response at Gray Area Center for the Arts' Spring 2017 UNSEEN Series: