Echolocation was first develloped and commissioned as a site-specific installation at the Wasserspeicher for Singuhr Hörgalerie in Berlin. It is centred around the acoustic relationships in the inner part of the Large Water Reservoir’s concentric ring architecture.
The idea for this installation is based on the concept that sound can be used for investigating acoustic and architectural spaces (like bats or dolphins do, and also in some occasions blind people use clicking sounds to locate themselves). Sound can be be used as a cue for location, with sound we are be able to ‘see’ acoustic and architectural shapes. In general our hearing will be applied as a tool for perception. For this installation I developped a device that is a kind of sound space investigator; the Echolocator.
The Echolocator incorporates a sound device, a laser beam, a communicating tracking device and a small screen that maps the space. It can emit short sounds that are optimal for echolocation. These sounds are based on sounds that animals use for echolocation. There are in total a dozen of those devices. The spectators receive a device when they enter the space. Each device sounds slightly different and will interact with each other.
With the Echolocator spectators are able to explore the acoustic and architectural properties of a given space with sound. This tool triggers our sonic perception and helps in understanding how sound and space correlates. Sound and its reflections mutates in space, anomalies occur, subtleties become apparent, nuances and timbre change as you scan the space with sound.
Since the first instalment at Singuhr, the device has been further refined to be able to use it also as a performance tool.
The performance is centred around the idea of moving and sensing into acoustic qualities of the space. It is based on the same sonic principles as described before. A space is divided in several acoustic zones and acoustic obstacles. Each zone has an assigned sound. Upon entering a zone the sound of the Echolocator will switch to the assigned sound. The obstacles have different materials, forms and micro-spaces. These obstacles will changes acoustic properties of the sounds. For example by using different materials (absorbing vs reflecting materials) and shapes (tubes vs open spaces) sound qualities will slightly differ. Each Echolocator has its own sound. The Echolocators also react with each other, when they all are close to each other they all sound the same. The installation/performance happens in a completely darkened space to optimize the perceptual awareness of the senses.
The performance has a maximum duration of 20 minutes. The audience is seated in the performative space. Between 5 to 10 performers are asked to scan and listen to the space with the Echolocator. The whole score comprises of specific instructions which divide the whole performance in smaller micro-events and actions that relates to ‘critical’ listening to the changing timbres of the reflected sounds from the Echolocator.
The performance refers in many ways to Alvin Lucier’s Vespers.
Performed by Pauwel De Buck, Julia Eckhardt, David Helbich, Mieke Lambrights, Kristof Lemmens, Patrick Thinsy, Kylian Van Der Have, Jeroen Vandesande, Louis Vanhaverbeke, Els Viaene, Kristi Tubli, Mari Laane, Birgit Purga, Jana Tint, Miina Tomberg and Liis Valjasti