Sonic intervention: Sound Machine



Darby Starling

Sound Machine is a performance that took place in the John Labbatt Visual Art Center on February, 25, 2013. The performance included pre-recorded audio of tapping, playing from the base of the staircase while a performer taps live to it on the staircase's platform. A second audio track is activated from the top creating a mix of pre-recorded history with a live event. The call and response performance ended in the audible echo of the live event.

For this project I had multiple facets of inspiration.My main focus was to use out of sync tapping, something that is generally frowned upon in the tap world. I then wanted to build an orchestra of tapping going in and out of sync, thinking of a game called "Sound Machine" that is often played in tap classes. The game involves someone starting with an initial beat to tap out, and each participant going around a circle adds on a beat, building a loud synhronized rhythm. Overall, my aim was to make as many of the normally stabilized elements of tap completely variable. Choosing a surface that normally never would be tapped on, in an unexpected and almost mundane location, playing with syncronicity, space and multiple performances of tapping, but all performed by the same person and all at once.

The piece is meant to show an internal battle of the performer being externalized, a choice between following what is "right" with syncronicity and what is considered unusal, or wrong.The piece also plays with memory, with the tapping from the top of stairs resembling this, and ultimately creating a very "call and answer" feel. The piece is overall also incredibly loud and invasive. The idea of choosing to dance to something that is more so categorized as "noise" than music has always interested me, and more so now after studying the history of audio art and its misconceptions about being tied to music or noise... though it is neither. In my initial stages of research I actually googled "history of dancing to noise" and was given a link to tap dancing in response.




<click to play/pause audio, best listened to via headphones

Installation Location: Central Staircase of the John Labbatt Visual Art Center
speakers, iPod, macbook, tap shoes, pre-recorded tapping, performer(artist)

The clip above is a compilation of the two tracks of pre-recorded tapping. All pre-recording was taped stairs, chosen for its qualities of resonance and texture.To view the performance click here.

link to more sonic interventions

VAS2250-002 >>UWO2013