Make Sweet Music with Strangers in a Giant, Sonic Forest

Make Sweet Music with Strangers in a Giant, Sonic Forest

Matthew Dear's music and Microsoft technology merge in a public interactive instrument at NYC's New Museum incubator, New Inc.

Dave Pinter, PSFK
  • 7 august 2015

Members of NYC’s New Museum incubator, New Inc. have been generating some really interesting projects in the first year of its existence. The latest is DELQA, an interactive sonic and technology installation featuring the music of Matthew Dear. The project invites the public to participate in a collaborative music-creating experience.

I wanted to compose a sonic dreamscape, fully realizing that dreams are weird and not always black and white. The music rests between peaceful and chaotic states, allowing the listener to come up with their own story while engaging with the piece.

Dear’s composition work was particularly challenging since it wouldn’t be played as a single piece of linear music. That’s where the installation comes in. Brooklyn-based design firm The Principals worked with audio experts Listen as well as artist and programmer Charlie Whitney to design an environment that is also essentially a giant musical instrument. The tracks created by Dear were divided up into individual parts.

interactive music

Within an aluminum frame are stretch panel of spandex and rope netting. When the panels or nets are stretched or climbed on, a series of Microsoft Kinect units with IR cameras detect the movements and introduce or alter sound played in the space. Lightly touching one of the panels softly introduces a sound while leaning into it full body will be more aggressive. Core77 published a thorough behind the scenes look at the technical complexities in creating the installation.

interactive music

The sound is delivered from over 40 speakers placed within the frame allowing elements of the composition to travel through the space and sound very different depending on where visitors stand and how they interact with the fabric or the nets. The sounds themselves are partially inspired by the forest and are sometimes very lush and at other times rhythmic.

interactive music

In addition to the interactive sound, the lighting is also user controlled and synced to change color or illumination levels when the fabric is deformed.

interactive music

Microsoft Kinect has already been adopted by artists like Nine Inch Nails and Aphex Twin in their performances. DELQA aims to use the technology to explore new ways of experiencing music by blurring the lines between creator and audience. For Dear, the unpredictability offers a whole new way of approaching composing music.

The beautiful thing is that it’s impossible to predict how people will react to DELQA. A project of this nature is full of unknowns, conjured up in workshops and sound studios.

When we open the doors to DELQA for the first time, we’ll finally see where all of our wild ideas got us.

interactive music

interactive music

interactive music

interactive music

interactive music

interactive music


August 6 – 9, 2015

11am-9pm Thu-Fri / 11am-6pm Sat-Sun


New Museum’s New Inc Space

231 Bowery NY, NY

Photos: Dave Pinter (unless designated)

+Matthew Dear
+microsoft kinect

What's Next In Tech Meets The Public At Worlds Fair Nano

Augmented & Virtual Reality
Brand Development Yesterday
Design & Architecture Yesterday
No search results found.