The sense of touch has always played a major role in music. Whether it comes from the vibration of a violin string or the surface of a piano key, physical feedback has led musicians to develop a tight connection with their instrument, some describing it as ‘an extension of their body’. While progress has been made in electronic music with regards to its sonic characteristics its manifestation in the physical realm remain extremely primitive. This project aimed to explore the creative potential of designing an immersive, combined auditory-tactile experience of music as an extension of the traditional concert setup.
We envisioned the construction of a dedicated concert space where the audience will be listening to electronic music played through a quadrophonic loudspeaker system, as well as experiencing the music through vibrations in their bodies.
For the realisation of the above we used the Resonate suit (resonate.nu). This custom-built wearable contains ten transducers, four on the front and six on the back. The transducers are positioned in such a way that certain frequencies are felt in locations where they exert the most amount of impact. The suit was designed in collaboration with fashion collective Das Leben am Haverkamp and won several prizes, including but not limited to: Grant for Major Creative Talent, Municipality of The Hague, 2014 | Public’s Choice Award Media Art Friesland, 2014. Until today Resonate has been experienced at the following locations: Big Improvement Day, Scheveningen, 2014 | Media Art Festival, Friesland, 2014 | Night of Art and Knowledge, Leiden, 2015 | TodaysArt, The Hague, 2015.
Apart from the suit, the other important is the space. By eliminating other stimuli the listener can be completely engulfed in the music experience. For the purpose of the project 6 individuals at a time were placed in one of the studios for electronic music in The Institute of Sonology. The lights were turned off and no interference from the outside world was allowed.
The music which was selected for the project is the piece KONTAKTE by Karlheinz Stockhausen. We chose this piece specifically because of its strong emphasis on composed spatial trajectories of sound as well as its overall integration of space as a main feature of the compositional process. When experienced through the skin as well as the ears, the conceptions of external and internal space unite in a one-of a-kind, immersive experience.