On Site | DROPPING Proposal

Narrative Description:

Evolutionary psychologists who explain human behavior according to its survival benefits have found that language, conversation, and gossip, specifically, has evolved as a survival instinct. The activity of eavesdropping allows one to observe the complexity of human communication and reveals how each individual conversation is unique with its own signature, shaped by the people, events, location and culture. However, when layered together or reinterpreted by history, only pieces of meaning are grasped and comprehension can vary according to the listener.

DROPPING, an interactive audio installation (in process), is being developed using six 30-second overheard conversations recorded in and around Brooklyn, NY. Viewers are able to manipulate the audio playback by physically exploring the gallery space. Tracked by an overhead camera and processed using a computer application, each conversation grows louder and softer depending on the viewer's location. Standing in specific "hotspots" allow the viewer to isolate individual conversations, while moving through or standing at the center of the space creates a cacophony of sound, wherein only certain fragments of dialog are heard.

The goal of this installation is to juxtapose a feeling of impermanence with the perceived trivialness and humor of everyday conversation and gossip. The experience of physically entering the space, the discomfort of hearing disembodied conversations, and the ability to alter the output will probe the viewer to consider the human desire for privacy, understanding, and self-preservation.

Physical Components:

The project requires following materials for installation:

  • Camera
  • Computer
  • analog to digital video converter
  • m-audio firewire 410
  • 6-8 powered speakers

The audio recording and editing has been completed. The interactive components, currently being tested with contributions from artist and technologist, Scott Fitzgerald, will be documented in January 2010 and will be available for viewing on this website shortly thereafter.


This is a screen capture from a MAX/MSP test application - a demonstration of physical interactivity for proposed audio installation. Mouse is used to simulate the physical interaction (walking through the space).

  • Alternatively, you may download the demo file (45mb), unzip and play on your computer. Please use the mouse to simulate the physical interaction.