ba-b&l (11111011100)

ba-b&l (11111011100)

an interactive sound installation

ba-b&l (11111011100) is an interactive sound installation that plays digitally-generated speech from texts about the development of language in ancient Mesopotamia. The sounds have been sliced into the most basic elements of language ñ the building blocks that are used to construct words. These phonemes were layered in order to create a real time mix between five sets of custom designed and fabricated speakers. The texts were appropriated from Neal Stephenson’s novel “Snow Crash”, published in 1992.

ba-b&l was originally created and shown in 2001. In 2012, we completely reworked the electronics of the system. The original 2001 work focused on the internal interactions between the audienceís auditory and analytic processes, which were engaged in deciphering the babble to make meaning. With the 2012 iteration we wanted to explore the capacity for the audience to physically interact with the work in a way that triggers intact texts to be played when they move in front of the installation.

Computers speak machine language, It’s written in ones and zeroes, binary code. At the lowest level, all computers are programmed with strings of ones and zeroes. When you program in machine language, you are controlling the computer at its brainstem, the root of its existence. It’s the tongue of Eden. But it’s very difficult to work in machine language because you go crazy after a while, working at such a minute level. So a whole Babel of computer languages has been created for programmers… Neal Stephenson. “Snow Crash”, 1992, Bantam Books.

TITLE: ba-b&l (11111011100)

PROJECT TYPE: Interactive Sound Installation

LOCATION: MOCAD (Museum of Contemporary Art, Detroit). Detroit, Michigan. ëPost Industrial Complexí. Curated by Jon Brumit & Katie McGowan.

Design: Spring 2012
Completed: Summer 2012

FUNDING: Self-funded. Major support for “Post-Industrial Complex” by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation. Related programming support is provided by the McGregor Fund and Edith S. Briskin/Shirley K. Schlafer Foundation.

CREDITS: John Marshall (rootoftwo), Cezanne Charles (rootoftwo)

DIMENSIONS: 12′ (L) x 3′ (W) x 12′ (H)

MEDIA: MDF, urethane, Arduino microcontrollers, speakers, digital audio, sensors.