To promote the city of Mannheim and celebrate its 400th anniversary, Stadtmarketing Mannheim GmbH sent an oversized multimedia cube, “Klang der Quadrate”, across major German cities. The technical highlight was the hands-on “Sound Lab” where the public was invited to explore Mannheim’s anniversary slogan, “see – hear – create”. The overall concept and communication design of the installation was developed by Atelier Markgraph; the interaction- and systems design as well as implementation was done by MESO.
Within a base area of about 64 m² and with surroundings of about 400 m², visitors were invited to create their own version of Mannheim’s anniversary song “Meine Welt” which could also be downloaded from the internet. The concept of the “Sound Lab” was based on two different kinds of handy cubes, “sample cubes” and “record cubes”, and three working zones.
The library consisted of about 80 different sound samples from Mannheim artists, field recordings and various remixes of the “Mannheim Song”. At the library station visitors could do a pre-selection for their individual sound mixes.
At the mixing zone, the sample cubes from the library could be combined with the individual sound creations recorded on the record cubes with the help of four different audio tracks.
Every audio track offered different possibilities to combine and reinterpret the sounds provided by the cubes. After finishing the remix, the unique version of the Mannheim-Song was again recorded and automatically uploaded onto a web-server. Users could also play their own individual sounds with the help of two microphones and record them on “record” cubes.
The rotating sequencer was used to create individual sound samples (e.g. drums or guitar) by placing a cube on a circle. The circle was constantly scanned by radar. When the radar crossed the cube, the sound recorded on it was played. Because the inner circle of the sequencer was scanned more often than the outer one it was possible to create complex sound-compositions.
To identify the samples and record cubes each of the 10,000 cubes was marked with a unique bar-code readable by ordinary bar-code scanners. A central processor, linked with all stations, was installed to administrate the information contained in the cubes. The three stations of the “Sound Lab” were operated by eight computers and equipped with capacitive and optic touchscreens working as user interfaces.
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MESO Digital Interiors GmbH
Gutleutstr. 96 . 60329 Frankfurt . Germany
David Dessens, Ingolf Heinsch, Sebastian Weiss, Iven Schmidt, Jörg Obenauer