Archipelago / Sofian Audry & Samuel St-Aubin / 2014
Archipelago is an interactive audio work involving a group of small electronic modules. The modules emit sounds reminiscent of fictitious birds singing. The songs emitted by the devices evolve during the course of the exhibition using genetic algorithms. Furthermore, they respond to infrared signals, allowing visitors to interact with them using remote controls brought from home or borrowed at the center. The coded messages sent by the remote interrupt and change the songs through crossovers and mutations.
The work thus engages the visitor in a surround experience that mixes analog and digital. Remote controls are extirpated from their everyday context, the binary signals they send not commanding a precise action, as the agents they activate dispose of a certain degree of freedom. The process draws on Galapagos by Karl Sims (1997-2000) which involved the audience in the evolution of virtual creatures. The image is here replaced by sound, virtuality by physicality, featuring active agents with their own autonomy. Rather than being the demiurge overseeing the evolution of a population, the visitor takes an active part in a living ecosystem.