A system of sound modules and flashlights replicates the natural chorus of insects, amphibians, birds and other swamp creatures in Belgrade-based artist Bojana Petkovic's Swamp Orchestra. Petkovic creates a “sound ecosystem” in which the exhibition’s visitors can explore “the realm of natural and artificial”—except, interactively, with 16 light sensitive sound modules, each reacting to a flashlight’s quantity of light.
The modules emit the sounds of a number of biological organisms depends upon the position of the listener. Says Petkovic, “They need light to exist and to sing to their highest potential. They have certain patterns and repetitive processes which can be altered by external influence of the light.”
“Swamp Orchestra seemingly functions as sound sculpture which in a subtle way changes the ambience and acoustic experience of the space but also has a substantial presence as a work of physical sculpture," Petkovic adds. "The setup itself reflects the layout of a concert hall stage on a much smaller scale. The pyramid shape has been carefully chosen for its symbolism as well as modularity where three or five pyramids form the cube.”
Petkovic sees Swamp Orchestra as an example of the complex interplay between nature and machine, human intervention and artifice. Each light that shines above the modules represents what the artist calls a “personal conductor,” an oscillator controlled by an Arduino. “This enables endless variations of composing the peace but also allows the participant to slow down and notice the subtleties of the composition,” Petkovic says.
Visually speaking, it’s clear that Petkovic succeeds in pairing the organic with the artificial. But listening to the sound art is just as satisfying because the sounds of the biological organisms, through interaction with the lights and their intensity, end up getting remixed into something almost mechanical and, indeed, orchestral.
Click here to see more of Bojana Petkovic’s work.