Infinite Sun2019

In most or perhaps all cultures, chanting is believed to have powerful spiritual effects: to calm the mind, to cultivate intimacy with the divine, to activate the flow of subtle energies — in short, to produce real effects in the real world. This project uses chants from many faiths and spiritual traditions as the basis for an algorithmic installation. A chorus of 11 laptops are programmed to chant from sunrise to sunset, singing their songs in praise of enlightenment, to the sun, to God in its many manifestations. Working in 30-minute cycles, an algorithm generates a new, invented spiritual song, working from a corpus made of existing mantras from a wide variety of spiritual traditions. Each laptop, like a pilgrim monk singing its own song in a loop, starts morphing in an interpolating path.

As both chanting and cybernetics are built around the notion of feedback loops, we incorporate a version of ‘biofeedback’ into our system. We track the ‘vital signs’ of each laptop (with visualization in the bottom left side of each screen): CPU usage, memory, temperature. These values are fed back into the system and affect the pitch and tempo of the chanting, and the activity of the LED light mounted on each laptop. This piece draws on the traditions of the spiritual call, the relentless universal prayer, the mysterious relation between language and mind…a relation now mediated by and outsourced to the digital equipment that is our mental repository.

ARTISTIC TEAM

concept/direction
Annie Dorsen
sound design/algorithmic design
Greg Beller
network design
Ryan Holsopple
ircam singing synthesis software
Alex Röbel
chant transcriptions
Julien Pallière/François Vey
Producer
Natasha Katerinopoulos
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