PET-G, polyurethane, custom electronics and programming, headphones/speakers, 54” x 24” x 26”, 2013
PET-G, polyurethane, custom electronics and programming, headphones/speakers, 24.5” x 20” x 14”, 2013
PET-G, polyurethane, custom electronics and programming, headphones/speakers, 21” x 18” x 18”, 2013
Together, these three pieces transform a space into a sonic environment. SAW, TRI, and OSC are works of art insofar as a guitar is a work of art. But, unlike a guitar, the sounds they produce are self-reflexive in nature. That is to say, the tones literally define their form, and vice versa. (More on this below) Through hearing and touch, these sculptures invite us to experience the sound of form. And when we engage with these synesthetic devices together, our ensemble forms a Penteract.
What's a Penteract?
A Penteract is a 5th dimensional object. To understand what that means let's start with a point . representing the zeroth dimension. When the point becomes a line it enters the 1st dimension. And when that line extrudes at a right angle from itself, it becomes a plane and enters the 2nd dimension. When that plane extrudes at a right angle from itself, it becomes a cube and entersthe 3rd dimension. Only through this orthogonal movement can we move up into higher dimensions.
The inspiration for this body of work comes from our fuzzy
and faulty notion that we are 3 dimensional creatures.
We are not. We see a coffee mug, and when we look at it we think we are seeing it instantaneously. We do not. It takes time for light to travel to the mug, time for wavelengths of light to be absorbed by the mug, time for the remaining wavelengths to be reflected from it into our retinae, time for our photoreceptors to translate the light into electrical impulses, and time for our occipital nerves to process this light into perception of a mug. Even our seemingly most immediate experiences are bound by stretches of time.
This illusory sense of immediacy often leads us to assume that our world is a 3D stage, and that time exists apart from it. However, because our experience of the stage is intricately and irreconcilably bound to time, we are 4D spacetime beings. To symbolize a 4D object, we move orthogonally from the cube, and produce a second cube whose corners are bound to the first. Together they move through time. This symbol of a spacetime object is called a Tesseract. We are ALL tesseracts. But in our daily Newtonian realm, they and we tend to forget. Because it's not self-evident in our daily experience to our bodies and minds. That is what I'm trying to do counteract with this art/thought experiment.
To make this 4D truth self-evident, I offer a new way to perceive 3D form.
A way to perceive space that is dependent on much slower waves than the near-instantaneous light waves traveling into your brain. Sound waves. 'Seeing' with sound takes much longer, not just for the air pressure waves to reach our ears, but for our brains to undergo the mental gymnastics to process and transform the auditory signals into spatial information. Synesthesia is a rare natural gift, but for the rest of us it's hard-won. I believe that this time-gap between slow auditory sensation and near-instantaneous visual/tactile sensations which all are conveying the same message about the object in front of them, will elicit a state of deep mindfulness that is key to intuitively perceiving the spatial dimension above our own.
By creating transparent sculptures with touch sensors mapped to trigger the sound of the space they occupy, I am trying to persuade participants to relinquish the visual in exchange for the temporal auditory through a process not entirely dissimilar to echolocation. As it takes time to perceive the peaks and valleys of the sculptures, the participant's ears will force open a window deeper into the fabric of experience, and hopefully develop the mindfulness that is requisite for higher spatial understanding.
Now that our minds are properly primed with synesthetic messages from the sculpture, we can begin to widen our concentration away from the sonic-spatial information our touch is triggering, When we do so, we hear not only our object, but also the objects with which our fellow participants are interacting. Theoretically, and I think, practically, we are simultaneously perceiving several people's experiences. We are seeing through more than one pair of eyes. By hijacking our ears to act as eyes, we can see far more than with our eyes, which can only see one thing at a time. Our peripheral view grows far greater, and is only limited by our range of hearing and the number of participants.
This is how we can move orthogonally from the 4th onto the 5th dimension.
Suddenly, from hearing one perspective, we hear many. From serial to parallel. When we see the world through another's' eyes, we become Penteractic.
This art/thought experiment can help us gain a more intuitive, everyday understanding of higher dimesions without a fancy math degree. I believe that our job as artists is not limited to the realm of beauty, of spirit, of love, or magic. I believe we too can plumb the depths of our physical reality alongside the astronomers and physicists. We need not telescopes or particle accelerators, so long as we maximize the greatest detection device of all--our minds--to grasp intuitive, tangible truths. In this case, by simply crossing the wires of our senses, we ascertain 5th dimensional space. And since the foremost contenders for a grand unified theory of everything (string theory, loop quantum gravity) hinge on our understanding of 10 or 11 spatial dimesions, we had better not leave the conversation just to the theoretical physicists and mathematicians.
To create the 3D CAD model I started with, I 3D motion tracked my right hand as I danced to a favorite song. From there I built a 1/4 scale maquette of the 3D model, and then carved it out of a massive block of foam. Once complete, I cut it into 31 little pieces in order to eliminate any undercuts. The parts were coated in polyurethane resin and vacuum formed. Then all 31 pieces needed aluminum gating to get rid of every last undercut. Now the piece were ready for vacuum forming. Afterwards, the molds were wrestled out of the plastic, I finished the edges of each part, and bolted it all together with 400 machine screws.
Finally, the sensors and microcontroller were implemented and adhered to the form. The code was tested and loaded into a mac mini, which itself was loaded into a perforated plastic case. Meanwhile, the 3D coordinates of each sensor location were documented and converted into midi tones using a custom patch. Finally, the sound files were recorded with guitars in my music studio and incorporated into the code.