Benoit Maubrey about "Audio Ballerinas"
In 1989 I had been experimenting with solar cells as a power source for the Uniforms (usually we use rechargeable 12-volt batteries) and came to the conclusion that they had to be mounted on a horizontal surface in order to catch as much of the sun‘s rays as possible. The artist Susken Rosenthal helped me build a transparent disc-like skirt out of Plexiglas that could hang loosely on a belt from the waist. On this surface we placed the solar cells and electronics. A visiting dancer friend who saw the prototype explained to me that we had created a “tutu“ -- the skirt-like piece of clothing that dancers wear in such classical ballet pieces as Swan Lake. This is how Audio Tutus came into existence.
We also discovered that the hard but flexible tutus were ideal for mounting speakers, microphone jacks and amplifiers, not unsimilar to a disc-jockey‘s mixing board. In the end, we had a Plexiglas dress that could spontaneously pick up sounds, record them digitally, play them back, amplify them, repeat them (via an electronic looping device), and alter them via a down- and up- pitch mechanism. For example, the tutus could record five seconds of the sound of a bell tower ringing nearby and instantaneously play back the sound. Digital Memory is at the core of an Audio Ballerina performance. In each place where they perform the first task of the group is to find a particular local sound -- a sound that is indigenous to that site or country-- that can be used for this piece. Acoustically speaking, the sound of this piece can be liked to a team of sanitation workers dragging empty garbage cans on the street. With their photovoltaic sensors the Audio Ballerinas can react to light: not unlike a Geiger counter responding to radioactive substances. The pitch of the sound changes according to the intensity of the light (radiant energy). This occurs when either their own shadows or the shadows from their surroundings (tree, clouds) interfere with the direct light as they dance through the space. In effect, they can thus translate their body movements into sound.
In collaboration with Singuhr Hörgalerie/Carsten Seiffarth. Supported by
Aarhus Kommune-Kulturud- viklingspuljen, Goethe-Institut Dänemark and
The Danish Art Council’s DIVA-programme.