SWARM Play the light of the city: European Light Expression Network

Noise Orchestra were awarded the ENLIGHT: European Light Expression Network Residency for our public intervention ‘SWARM:Play the light of the city’. Creating portable Noise Machines that respond to light in the urban environment we undertook sound walks in three European cities for Rome Media Art Festival, SPECTRA Aberdeen and Article Biennial in Norway, with participants forming a walking drone orchestra, re-framing citizens relationship to architecture, the urban environment and spatial acoustics.

Produced by Curated Place, we developed the work in residence at Fondazione Mondo Digitale (fabrication and interface design), Pervasive Media Studios (user experience and concept) and Eagle Labs at Media City (fabrication, 3D printing).

The narrative for the piece explore the idea that the audience are given our Noise Machines that are abandoned Soviet technology from the 1920s used as measuring tools before modern urban development became so ocularcentrist, highlighting the sonic rather than the visual character of the city.

Spotlight on SPECTRA Festival

SPECTRA Festival by Curated Place, covers the entire city of Aberdeen, with the main concentration of public light installations and interactions situated around Union Terrace Gardens in the centre. Our route focused on interaction with the light festival exhibits, we also planned an alternative psycho-geographical route that would take people off the beaten track, exploring the less well trodden routes that were sonically interesting.

The combination of being within the festival exhibit areas and the usual public spaces such as the main shopping areas worked really well, with the groups testing the machines out in shop windows, standing under streetlights and pointing at passing traffic. Some of the key observations from the walks:

Noise box 1 s· Narrative : Some audiences really believed our machines were abandoned soviet technology in a skip on a Moscow street!

Interface deciphering: We ran a short demo/instruction at the start of the walk, the cyrillic interface was a conversation and interaction point, with participants helping each other, working out how to use the machines – adding an additional element of play and curiosity and experimentation.

·  Spectacle: Great response from the wider public, causing intrigue and curiosity. The festival was quite busy and we got caught up a few times, with not being able to get away due to so many people asking what the machines were!

·Improvisation/play: we were impressed with the sounds people created with the machines from dark brooding oscillations to chords and mayhem. There was sonic collaboration, highly experimental environmental interaction with people testing out different architectural effects and lighting and a real sense of fun.