Liquid Architecture [IX Symposium, MUTEK MTL, MUTEK MX, Festival TransArt]

We are surprised to let our spirit go in this endless space that is offered to us. It is not a question here of following the logic of a tale or of projecting oneself into a story. As one goes deeper into the experience, it becomes clear that the technique of 3D scans of historical monuments used to produce this film is by no means an end in itself. It is an unexpected tool used to create a new dramaturgy that teleports the viewer inside oneself. – La Bible Urbain

“Liquid Architecture” is a forty-five minute immersive audio-visual performance created and performed by Michael Dean and Patrick Trudeau with collaboration from visual programmer Ehsan Rezaie. Based on the re-representation of Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system data, immense real-world structures and environments are represented in a highly digitized form. The work is inspired by Marcus Novak’s 1991 publication of “Liquid Architectures Cyberspace”.

The piece rediscovers a large number of historical monuments. Old churches, waterfalls and forests merge into one another, joining together and creating impossible structures. At each reconstruction and dissolution of the scenes, the energy is transformed, contrasting with the ideas and beliefs they represent. Generative performance techniques are a primary focus, resulting in unique performances. “It is first and foremost an ode to the journey and the dream of a reality that dissolves and reverts to infinity, ” says Patrick Trudeau (visual artist).

The work addresses the current climate of audio-visual performance:

  1. Audio and visual components are considered a singular entity.  Audio and visual mediums share performance data and generate content by translating visual content into sound, and visa versa. A common aesthetic is used to communicate a reaction to extreme digitalism.
  2. Immersive techniques are used as primary compositional elements. Composed independently of a single configuration, the work is developed as a basis for future projects. The performance may be adapted to a variety of performance environments and loudspeaker configurations.
  3. Generative performance techniques.  A shared performance system is developed to generate performance data. This is part of the artists desire to engage in conversation with the computer as a part of the creation and performance process. These techniques ensure a unique and unpredictable performance on each presentation, for both the audience and the performers.




The primary content of “Liquid Architecture” is made from simple geometries and ‘point-cloud’ data. These are married with particle systems and physics engines to induce natural behaviour in the materials. The use of 3D point cloud data provides a unique method of manipulating visual content. This data is taken from a number of scans produced by Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system data in order to represent immense real-world structures and environments are represented in a highly digitized form. Each point or data-set can be acted on by complex theories such as fluid dynamics or the swarming behaviour of birds. These serve to create transitions and transformations of content that is both original and elicit a connection with the natural world. Combined with a strong sense of digitalism, old is set against new, tradition against technology.

The performance of both audio and visual content is influenced by data that is produced by a shared system. Additionally, each performer generates content from their individual machines. Data is sent back and forth, communicating spatial, rhythmic, colour and various signal information. Custom code allows either performer to dig deep into the internals of signal generation and affect the result in a sort of feedback loop: signals driven by signals driving signals.

Intended for presentation in a variety of immersive performance environments, the project exists independently of specific technical configurations. Multi-projection dome environments, virtual-reality headsets and multi-screen projections as well as multi-channel speaker configurations and binaural listening environments are considered. As part of the MUTEK festival and at the Société des arts technologiques artist-in-residency, “Liquid Architecture” will be presented in using a multi-projection dome environment with a thirty-one channel loudspeaker system.

Resources

The code used to develop the project is found here:
https://github.com/mykedean/liquid-architecture/

Press & Interviews

http://sat.qc.ca/fr/nouvelles/rencontre-avec-diagraf
https://www.labibleurbaine.com/sorties/experience-audiovisuelles-dome-liquid-architecture-hyperform-a-sat/

Performances

Liquid Architecture is part of a year-long artist-in-residency program at the Société des arts technologiques in Montréal, Canada. Over 28 performances were scheduled, including at MUTEK, at the Société des arts technologiques and Festival TransArt.

  • IX Symposium [Demo]. La Société des arts technologiques. Montreal, Canada. 2 June 2017.
  • MUTEK Montréal. La Société des arts technologiques. Montreal, Canada. 24 August 2017.
  • Festival TransArt. Stahlbau PICHLER. Bolzano, Italy. 10 September 2017.
  • MAPP MTL. Moment Factory. Montréal, Canada. 7 October 2017.
  • MUTEK Mexico. Mexico City, Mexico. 11-15 October 2017.
  • Satosphère. La Société des arts technologiques. Montreal, Canada. 2-21 November 2017. [30 presentations]

Photo credits: Sébastien Roy