Tap any of the eight cubes with your index finger.
This is where it begins, the interactive experience between music and visual art in the Alfred C. Glassell Jr. Exhibition Gallery.
“Once you tap the cube, then you make a sound,” says Derick Ostrenko, an assistant professor of digital art in the LSU School of Art. “After that, you hold your hand under the cube, and the sound is played back to you. And when you press two cubes together, the first one transfers the sound to the second.”
The cubes are part of eight interactive installations making up “NIME15,” an exhibition that coincided with the recent New Interfaces for Musical Expression conference at LSU. The show runs through Sunday, June 28, though the NIME conference lasted only three days.
“We wanted the show to run longer to show some of the ideas that artists have developed using technology to bring music and art together,” says Ostrenko, who co-curated the show. “It’s also a lot of fun for anyone who comes into the gallery. We had a lot of kids here during the opening, and they were all laughing and having a great time.”
Meaning this is an exhibit where everyone is allowed to touch the artwork. The effect wouldn’t be the same otherwise.
The Foster Hall pieces have since been moved to the Glassell Gallery where visitors can walk out the back door into the Shaw Center to experience the pieces still on display outside the Manship Theatre and along the glass corridor leading to the LSU Museum Store.
The first installation that will capture visitors’ attention is “MusicalCubes” by Swedish artists Gunnar Oledal and Michael Schade.
Eight cubes are suspended from the ceiling by thin wires, each glowing a different color when releasing recorded sounds.
And as Ostrenko later points out, they also react to sounds generated by other installations, particularly the sonic sounds created by Ignacio Pecino’s “XYZ.”
Pecino represents the University of Manchester in England.
“This is an international show, and we were working with artists from throughout the world,” Ostrenko says. “We’ve been talking with them for a year, and a lot of them came to Baton Rouge to set up their exhibits.”
Pecino writes in his statement that XYZ is an “interactive installation proposing three non-conventional virtual instruments based on spatial and kinematic models to explore timbre, gesture and spatialisation.”
Visitors tap commands on an iPad, which generate sounds through a Supercollider, whose sounds are visually interpreted on a large computer screen.
Not only do the “MusicalCubes” react to XYZ’s powerful performance, but other installations in the gallery do, too.
Meanwhile, New Zealander Shannon Novak’s “String Section” is an adventure for Smartphone users. The wall is filled with colorful symbols, each of which produces its own stringed instrument harmony through the “Aurasma” app.
Novak provides instructions on downloading the app, available in both Google Play and the Apple App store, then walks visitors through directions in finding the correct channel on the app.
After that, visitors can hold their phones in front of the symbols to produce the harmonies.
“This conference has been held throughout the world, and this year, because we have such a great digital music program at LSU, it came to Baton Rouge,” Ostrenko says. “It’s the premier conference in designing human-computer interfaces and interactions for musical performances, and it was here.”