This article is presented by HP Australia
It's Art Month in Sydney, which means installations are popping up all over the city. Though few can claim to be quite as immersive as the HP Spectorium, a DIY music and art space where the audience can layer sounds and colourful projections at will, courtesy of New Zealand musician Race Banyon and Australian design duo Toby & Pete.
The Spectorium came to life at Art at Night Bar earlier in the month, inviting a crowd of art and music fans to control their own dance space collaboratively using three HP Spectre x360 touch screen laptops. Each interactive laptop screen had 12 individual "touch triggers", so multiple people could use it at once, curating the scattered music and light patterns which were projected onto the ceiling and walls surrounding them.
Designers Toby & Pete are pros at fusing visuals with music, having got their start creating Flume's signature onstage Infinity Prism. But this project was special in that they were allowing far more audience interaction than your standard concert performance.
"Music and art installations are usually just a big screen, and it usually only answers to one person—the artist," Pete explains to Creators. "But in this case we allowed the audience to play. And with the projections being right above their heads, that's something you don't usually get to do at a festival, especially at a height where people can reach the lights."
The duo used three projectors raised to ceiling height, floating a massive screen above their audience to create an immersive 360-degree space. "This space itself was quite special," Toby says. "It's always an issue at festivals especially that you can't control the ambient lighting, and you have no control over the ceiling at most venues. We had control over the ceiling and there were no windows in this space, which is really very rare. So we jumped at the opportunity."
Members of the audience were able to create both unique sound and light performances with their fingers, with the aim of mixing and matching the two. "Depending on what you were doing with the laptops, you'd hear different music coming from Race Banyon," Toby explains. "Up to eighteen people could be interacting with it at one time, so anything could happen."
Of course, it's a little difficult for an artist to relinquish total control of their project to a bunch of strangers at a bar. Not everyone is a musician or projectionist—especially not after a few beers. So Toby & Pete worked with Race Banyon to make sure the environment would still sound and look incredible with any combination of people controlling the touch screens.
"We asked Race to supply us with six tracks that were all harmonious and all at the same BPM, so when the audio was overlaid it was still musical and not clashing—that was a really important step: getting all the sounds to work well together," Pete says. "It's a fine line between giving people control but also setting up the rules so it doesn't sound bad."
This article is presented by HP Australia. You can find out more here.