Flux V

Leading on from The Roundhouse project, Flux V has been the final installation in the series to date. Taking forward the principals of the previous iteration the concept of a single more powerful and dynamic acoustic element became the premise for the next iteration

 

The complex soundscape produced at the roundhouse resulted in what David Rokeby described as disconnection, the complex output the installation produced that after the initial reactions of the installation to a stimulus the user was not always able to detect subsequent effects in the performance of the piece.

 

The focus of Flux V was to create a single more dynamic object which similarly to the Delta IV installation could create a direct and obvious relationship between the audience and the installation both in reciprocal gesture and acoustic performance.

To begin the design of the element i approached The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, who have a history dating back as far as 1420 creating large scale cast and acoustically performative objects. to begin with a series of experiments and exploration of the tuning and acoustic properties and design of the of bells (+50kg) was undertaken.

 

While initially the ambition of this iteration was to design our own form, the complexities and performative capabilities of a traditional bell lead eventually to using one.  Thanks to the bell foundry in was loaned the ‘4th of 8’ bell from St Peters Bromyard cast in 1752 and weighing 260kg to be the acoustic element for Flux V.

 

While in Flux IV the sound mirrors I designed achieved a wide range of acoustic capability (relatively high fidelity to coin the expression) the bells structure only allows for a much smaller range with a correspondingly slower excitement time, even when harmonic frequencies of the bell were activated the sounds took up to 2 seconds to reach their maximum volume.

 

Similarly to the roundhouse the hardened bronze alloy of the bell was to be sounded by a purpose built digital audio exciter. The typical tuning instrument of the bells is a stylus probe (no longer in production) using this devise the tip of the probe is pressed against the surface of the bell and a sound swipe (0-20,000Hz) played through the stylus while the bell is recorded with a contact microphone. This process will excited the key notes and harmonics the bell can produces and a signature of the bell measured against which alterations can be made to tune the bell.

 

Once all of the resonant frequencies had been mapped the interactions of the audience could then be mapped into the performance of the sculpture proximities and positions equated to tonal acoustic performance and orientation  

 

Engineering consultancy; George Waller (UCL)

Special thanks to, The Whitechapel Bell Foundry, Stephen Hughes

 

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