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Interactive Installations : Petite Terre (with Erik Samakh) (1992)
Commissioned by the McLuhan Program in Culture and Technology for the Glenn Gould Conference
Financially supported by Unitel

Petite Terre is the result of a collaboration between David Rokeby and French artist Erik Samakh. The work is made up of a small natural environment (current version is about 30" across). Four small speakers are hidden under the leaves of the vegetation which covers most of the surface of this world. This world is in fact an island surrounded completely by water. The world is inhabited by the sounds of a variety of frogs, birds, insects, etc. Each creature has a behaviour defined by a computer program which determines when, how and why each one vocalises. Each behaviour is subtley different so that the mix of sounds varies widely depending on the interactive parameters. In this initial version, the creatures respond to the movements of people around the installation as seen from above by a video camera and motion sensing system. Most of the animals are timid, so that the approach of a person will most likely result in the sounds of things scuttling across pebbles and splashing into the water. If the person who approaches remains still, one or another of the families of frogs will begin singing to each other tentatively, then more openly, other families, and some birds joining in until the small world seems populated at an almost amazonian density. The sounds themselves however remain relatively small, in the same scale as the world. (Next)


"Glenn Gould Conference", CBC Broadcast Center, Toronto, Canada.
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Copyright 2000 David Rokeby / very nervous systems / All rights reserved. 12/11/00