Copyright 2014
Andre Hoffmann

Should I get the key for the room?! - a visitor

The Other is an interactive audio installation incorporating temporary an reconfigured architecture, audio only resonance and interaction measurement with heartbeat sensors.

The visitor enters the project space and is requested by an assistant to apply the heartbeat sensor to his chest. Then he is lead to a separee and finds himself in this dark, small place in front of a door - alone. Suddenly moans, knocks and laments from a person can be heard from the room behind the door. The voices inside call for help. The intensity of his knocks and laments increase, he screams. Whatever the visitor tries to do - there is no answer and the door is locked. At this point the assistant comes back and explains what just happened to him.

The Other is an installation which basically measures the heartbeat and plays back short sounds from a sample bank which are in accordance with his rate of heartbeats. The higher the heartbeat gets, the more intense the screams and knocks from inside will be. Behind the door there is nothing else than an actuator applied on the door to create the knocks and a speaker, responsible for the voice. Both are connected to a computer running a MaxMSP patch which fetches the heartbeats and creates the "answers" in form of the audio resonance.

We exhibited this installation at the Hochschultage at the University of the Arts in Bremen in February as a preview for the project "The Tell Tale Heart" (T3H). A few dozens of visitors "enjoyed" the experience. Although for most people it was obvious that it was set up (depending on the introduction by the assistent, a lot of improvisation here created some interesting reactions), most had a stressful moment in the separee. Most tried to open the closed door, some even thought that there was an actual person inside, trying to communicate. Some were confused, trying to look for help from the assistents. Others were completely repelled, stating that they don't want to experience it. But in the end for most it was an interesting experience.

The Other was a group effort. I was responsible for the implementation of the MaxMSP patch and also helped with most of the other tasks, such as sensor application, assistance and setting up the room and the separee.

Interactive Audio Installation. MaxMSP/Jitter, Computer with Max5 Runtime Enviroment, Infusion Systems BioBeat Sensor & Wi-MicroSystem, Speakers, Audio Driven Actuators, Temporary & Reconfigured Architecture. Work for: Digital Media Master Project (Christoph Lischka). Digital Media Masters, University of the Arts Bremen. 2009.

A quick record of the occurrences when presented at the Hochschultage 2009
- no signal / heartbeat too low
- trying to open the door actually., but didn't get signal
- peter von maydell: although i know everything, but couldn't stop being nervous
- someone trying to get help from us, actually walked out of the room
- someone feels sad that she couldn't help

People actually recommended or heard about the installation and came by because of that.

- (40-45 m) get excited real fast, and calm down after few minutes
- (25 m) says he is ok, but he gets really excited
- (35 f) totally calm (4 level maximum), she suggested: if the person in the door were shouting "come in" "why don't u help me", maybe it triggers better
- (20-25 f) react ok, but reached level 6 for a little while
- (30 m with 3 kids) continue on level 6 for a long time, maybe because he is worrying about the kids
- (20-25 f) reaches level 5, but comes out for help too soon
- (20-25 f) totally believed in it, and really excited
- (25-30 f) reaches level 6 for a little while
- (16 f) reacted excited
- (26 f) knows the concept but still scared
- (24 f) always level 5 or level 6
- (8m) starts with 2, goes up to 6, signal jumps a lot
- (50 f) directly goes back alerted, saying that there was somebody in the room screaming for help
- (40 f) tries to communicate, tries to open the door
- (50 m) up from 80 to 100 (but said he wasn't believing in it to be real as he thought the screams come from the hallway
- (55 f) From 60 to 73. She thought it was a joke but still came out and warn us, probably she was confused.
- (40m) 50 - 120. Tried to open the door and tried to communicate with the "person" inside.
- (35m) desperately tried to help the "person" inside, talked half the time
- (35m) really thought that there was a problem inside
- (19m) became nervous after triggering with level 6, before that calm
- (40 f) calm.......... level 2
- (8 f) calm ... level 3 or 4
- (20 m) get triggered!
- (petra klausmeyer) didn't get the heartbeat that often, pretty calm, but she was talking with the person, and suggestion is: the person in the door is not that concerned and the acting is not real, or applying more dialogue and more isolation