Shift, an interactive audio visual installation, 2011. Shift is an array of machines shifting bits and bytes informed by simple and highly repetitive algorithms. Shift pays attention to its environment through the ever-watchful eye of a built-in camera and responds to movement. Changes in state are expressed through audio and visual abstractions.
An algorithm is a process or a set of rules. Here, the algorithms are shaped by Andreas Schlegel, Benson Chong, Darrick Ma, Dhiya Md, Felix Sng, Marvin Liang, Mike Chen, Sid Lim.
Shift is a result of the Thursday Sessions work group, a weekly get together at the Media Lab. A group of Lasalle’s Communication Design alumni and Andreas Schlegel met once a week to create and discuss ideas related to computer generated artifacts. This initiative started as an open crash course into ‘Computer Programming for Artistic Applications’ in early 2011.
Participants were interested in learning software based strategies that would help them in supporting their final year project in the BA Communication Design programme in the Faculty of Design at Lasalle. After an initial Introduction to Programming using the open source programming environment Processing participants began to translate their own ideas into software code and consequently into a dynamically generated visual output.
These weekly meetings continued after the summer break 2011. A call for works for Sonorous Duration, an interdisciplinary festival organized by Lasalle’s Music Department was the starting point for the interactive installation Shift.
The concept behind Shift is based on the idea of computer glitches, an unwanted malfunction in a computer system resulting in unexpected audio visual artifacts. We were interested in the aesthetics of such artifacts and its simulation. Starting off from simple software sketches the project developed into a network of nine computers displaying a variation of 20 different glitches simulated by software and accompanied by a responsive audio system.
How did the software work? To get started, Andreas prepared a software template, a sketch, that would be used by each individual member of the project. By tweaking and changing parameters and the structure of the software code, new and different mutations of the initial program would emerge. We ended u choosing 20 variations to be displayed. In the next step interactivity was added to the sketches. Since each computer that we were using was equipped with a web camera, we added a code that would allow us to capture, analyze and translate the camera feed into an additional parameter for our sketches.
During the exhibition, the audience was able to interact with Shift through the build in web-camera of each individual computer. Activity sensed by the camera would result in visual and audible changes animating the audience to further explore the underlying system of the work through different forms of gestures.