Douglas Geers
Father's Dream Reliquary

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Father's Dream Reliquary


Genre: Interactive installation
Duration: variable
PDF: here
Audio: on Soundcloud
Video:
on Youtube

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Father's Dream Reliquary is an interactive installation housed in the body of a vintage 1940s wooden radio.

The work is intended to address issues of memory, emphemerality, and intimate engagement versus mass communication--in particular commercial radio's introduction of real time, one-way broadcasts to popular culture, and its placement in home spaces.

This work consists of a vintage radio body housing an Arduino microcontroller, secondary audio electronics, an ultrasonic sensor, and speaker. The Arduino microcontroller is connected to an audio shield capable of playing the approximately 150 audio clips designed expressly for the work. The choice of when to make sound and what sounds to play is dependent upon data from the ultrasonic sensor, which reads the proximity of gallery patrons. Nearly all choices are made according to changing weighted probabilities, and thus the actual sequence of sounds is unique for each viewer/listener's encounter with it.

Operation:
The ultrasonic sensor gauges the distance of visitors to the piece and changes its behavior based on this information. When no one is present, it falls silent. As listeners enter its vicinity, it 'comes to life,' playing a shifting texture of radio static punctuated by silences. As one moves closer the radio alternates between radio static, silence, and moments from the first "fireside chat" delivered by United States President Franklin Delano Roosevelt in March, 1933. Even closer, the sound materials begin to include personal recordings of my late father playing with his grandchildren. When one is quite close, all sounds drop away except those of my father's voice, with a focus on small phrases and an alternating closeness and distance of his voice.

Please note that because this piece intends to consider notions of intimacy, it is not loud and should not placed in locations with loud ambient noise levels, nor near other installations that create continuous noise or very loud noises. All of its sound is emitted from a single 8-inch speaker. Ideally the piece would be situated in a location that is not crowded, so that one or only a few visitors may interact with it at any given time.

Further details and technical information available upon request.

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