Tontauben is an interactive instrument for creating sound and will be used in installations and performances. It comprises eight small electronic spheres that are placed along the floor and that users manipulate. This manipulation triggers sounds that vary depending on where the spheres are in the space. To operate the instrument, PolyGRAMES, a research centre affiliated with the Polytechnique de Montréal, has devised a wireless local positioning system using a frequency band of 5.8 GHz. The data collected by this system will be processed by a computer program that will enable the sound to be emitted in the space.
Sylvie Parent © 2003 FDL
It is expected that this instrument will be used in different contexts and that the sounds integrated into the system will vary depending on the venue and presentation. Initially, the instrument will emit prerecorded sounds. Eventually, however, microphones built into the electronic spheres will enable users to add sounds and these sounds to be incorporated into the processing and distribution system.
The project reveals the movement of the users in the space by assigning them an identity through sound and giving them "resonance." The sphere becomes a tool not only for creation but also for projection. Indeed, the sphere projects individuals through space and gives them an echo. By manipulating the spheres, users take part in a transformation external to them through the creation of a world of sound. Yet users are also called on to renew their own creativity, their internal universe. By appropriating a sphere, users revisit a familiar object, a ball, while discovering an object that is renewed continually since they transform its sonic identity through movement. Users therefore experience a transformation, not only of their external space but also of their own notions about the known world.
For installations and performances, the project requires the involvement of several people so links can be forged between individuals and a collective work produced. To develop Tontauben for performances, Fournel has relied on assistance from such performers as Kathy Kennedy, Laure Otman and Isabelle Choinière.
Tontauben will be presented in September 2004 at Oboro, an artist-run centre in Montreal, following a residency at this centre to test the work. The project has also sparked the interest of several institutions in Canada and abroad (such as ZKM and V2).