A WATER DANCE
By: Mitsuko Verdery
A Water Dance is a machine that amplifies and reinterprets the sounds made by the movement of a body in a circular, small pool of water. As a performer moves throughout the water, the water sounds will be transformed into new noises, disconnected with our expectations of water sounds. Our preconceived ideas of these sounds will no longer exist; therefore decontextualizing our relationship with water. The sounds created will be electronic noises, high pitched and elongated. They will be somewhat rough yet soothing. I want the audience to experience this performance as a new discovery. I want them to see this performer and pool of water, and feel as though they are watching a new earthly element being born.
The description of A Water Dance above, is my ideal vision for the piece. A Water Dance will contain a pool of water about 4-foot diameter, in which the performer can moving freely in the container of water. I’d like performer to use their whole body when creating the sounds for the piece. I’d like for it to be in a large space indoors, so that viewers can walk around all sides of the water. I want the water to appear as a natural body of water. The sounds would be amplified in speakers all around the pool of water, ideally hanging from the ceiling.
My ideal visions for this piece are grand; therefore, I would like to first achieve something similar on a smaller scale. While researching for this project, I realized a mechanism very similar already exists. The machine is called Toriton Plus, and uses lasers to shine through water, and then Light Dependent Resistors respond to the positions of the lasers. As a hand touches the surface of the water, the resistors see the changes in voltage and noises are created. I’d like to create a Toriton Plus, as the starter for my ideal project of A Water Dance. If I am able to make the Toriton Plus work correctly, I will be able to experiment further with more water, the use of other body parts. I will set my Toriton Plus in the Ellis Gallery on a podium about waistline height of the viewer. The viewers will be able to touch the water freely. The inclusion of a performer, will only be added once I expand the pool of water.
My first influence for this piece was Pina Bausch’s Vollmond(Full Moon), it is a piece in which multiple dancers dance in a long puddle of water. Although not a sound art piece directly, I loved the way in which the dancers moved within this puddle and wanted to achieve something similar. My next inspiration was Doug Aitken’s Sonic Fountain. When I heard and saw his piece, I really loved the way he amplified the sounds of the water drips. These sounds and his choices for the installation created very powerful and hypnotic feelings. Aitken installed the water as if it were appearing through a hole in the ground. This visualization inspired me for my ideal scenario of A Water Dance. I want the water to appear in its naturalistic state, coming from the earth. My next influence were various Toriton Plus videos. These videos proved technically how I’d start to achieve my noise machine. The movement and sounds created, were very similar to how I envisioned the smaller version of my piece. Therefore, I’d like to start with creating a Toriton Plus. Building this will get me acclimated creating circuitry and using MAX/MSP. To create a Toriton Plus I will need this list of materials:
- Laser module: 1mW, 4.5V x 5 or x 6
- Stands for the lasers
- Light dependent resistor (LDR) x 5 or x 6
- 100KΩ resistor x 5 or x 6
- 22kΩ resistors x 3
- 500kΩ pots x 5
- An Arduino board and Arduino IDE
- A clear bowl, water
- Computer w. USB port and audio card
I plan to get my hands on these materials and also learn MAX/MSP. While getting aquainted with MAX, I can start to put together the hardware for the project. Once I have completed the Toriton Plus, I can start to experiment how the lasers respond to body parts staying in the water for longer periods of time. Then I will know the necessary changes for the larger piece.
Pina Bausch’s Vollmond: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aANfMDccoy0
Doug Aitken’s Sonic Fountain: http://vimeo.com/58588714
Toriton Plus: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bJ9LQHazTRg