Understanding Echo

Martin Rieser
© Screen shot ; Martin Rieser

Martin Rieser

Understanding Echo , ongoing
Co-workers & Funding
  • Understanding echo
    184 × 141
Awarded a DA2 Open Commission, Martin Rieser has created Understanding Echo, an interactive installation that re-awakens the mythological figure from the Echo and Narcissus myth.

In the centre of a darkened room hang a number of translucent coloured panels comprising large illuminated photographic montages, free-hanging over a diamond-shaped floorplan.

In the centre is a shallow circular pool of water in which a womans face is flickering, submerged below the surface. The woman is middle aged and, from time to time, talks slowly in short poetic fragments. As the audience get nearer to the pool these spoken fragments become ever more personal.

  • aesthetics
    • narrative
  • genres
    • installations
      • performative installations
    • performance art
      • video performances
  • subjects
    • Art and Science
      • space
    • Arts and Visual Culture
      • poetry
      • theater
Technology & Material
Understanding Echo Technical Notes

The installation creates a responsive environment using a combination of still digital imagery and projected video clips encoded as full-screen QuickTime. A video camera and infrared sensing software, which detects audience movement within three pre-programmed zones around the central projection area, control the installation. The software used was custom written in Java and C++ by Simon Yuill, controlling a fast hard disk and data projector. Connection between sensor and projection can be via Ethernet, Appletalk or Airport.

The projector is mounted directly above the pool). Via infrared sensing, software detects audience presence in any one of three zones marked by their corresponding distance from the centre of the installation: Distant, Intermediate and Intimate. The programme reacts to human presence by playing a corresponding projection, graded by emotional tone, which is displayed in the pool and linked to an image or class of images on the main screen. The anticipated movement of more than one audience member is compensated for by the logic of the programme.

Each video fragment is coded for audience distance and movement within a zone and is sequentially triggered by pre-programmed patterns of audience activity. The projected video fragments change without obvious repetition over a 40 minute cycle. The minimum required for Echo is a space approximately 10 metres square with low light conditions. 3 G4 Apple Macintoshes and two 1000 ansi lumens data projectors are required plus ethernet network hub and twin speakers and amp. Screens, cabling, infra-red lighting and detection systems are all supplied by the artist. A computer and projector are also available to the artist.