Nicola Rae : Reciprocal Resonances Refracted
PERSONAL STRUCTURES, Palazzo Bembo, Collateral Event during the 55th Venice Biennale, Riva del Carbon #4793, 30124 Venice, Italy. May - Nov 2013

This project involved projecting sound visualisations activated by live audience participation. The program Overtone Analyzer allows interactive sound generation to become visual mark-making through reciprocal sonic play.

The idea of using triangles as a source of interactive sound generation developed through looking at musical instruments played by Venetians during the Renaissance, when Pietro Bembo inhabited the Palazzo. During the Ottoman-Venetian wars at this time, triangles were played by invading Turkish soldiers as part of their percussive Janissary music. The Turkish triangles were made of brass and had rings hanging from their lower bars: but my triangles were made by Percussion Plus, a British percussion manufacturer recommended for their resonant tones. Although not intended to be a sonic ‘invasion’, there were moments when interactivity reached crescendos of sound that were unusual for the Palazzo.

Audience participation during the four opening nights was memorable, as were the many conversations that took place. A deaf visitor was delighted to be able to see the sounds that she was making and so judge different levels of sound visually. Artists who were also musicians activated the installation in particularly inventive ways. Many children responded uninhibitedly to the prospect of sonic did so many others.

The refraction of the two projector beams was caused by a Perspex cylinder, revolving at two revolutions per minute, which was powered by a mirror ball motor. At regular intervals the Perspex tube refracted the sound visualisations into circular patterns, activating the whole of the inner space. There are aspects of this effect that recall lighthouse beams across water, of which there are many around Venice. Yet this effect was discovered accidentally when experimenting with artist Paul Malone (my husband) in a small mock-up exhibition space within my studio. We tried out a few different refraction ideas yet we both immediately responded to seeing expanding circles of light arcing across the space, due to the refracting effects of the cheapest, extruded acrylic tube that had been roughly sawn.


Personal Structures website

Published catalogue pdf


Sponsored by Sygyt Software, through Bodo Maass's creation of an exhibition version of Overtone Analyzer for my installation at Personal Structures, Palazzo Bembo.

    Visitors during the opening private views on 28th, 29th, 30th, and 31st May, 2013

LIST OF ARTISTS showing in Personal Structures: Chul Hyun Ahn (KOR), Yoshitaka Amano (JPN), Alice Anderson (GBR), Jan-Erik Andersson (FIN), Axel Anklam (DEU), Yifat Bezalel (ISR), Hans Bischoffshausen (AUT), Djawid Borower (DEU), Faiza Butt (PAK), Mimmo Catania (ITA), Genia Chef (RUS), Chen Ping (CHN), Canal Cheong Jagerroos (FIN/MAC), Karlyn De Jongh (NLD), Scott Eady (NZL), Toshikatsu Endo (JPN), Carole Feuerman (USA), Cristiana Fioretti (ITA), Dale Frank (AUS), Chris Fraser (USA), Marc Fromm (DEU), Sally Gabori (AUS), Jakob Gasteiger (AUT), Darryn George (NZL), Selby Ginn (AUS), David Goldenberg (GBR), Gotthard Graubner (DEU), Kimberley Gundle (ZAF), Laura Gurton (USA), Patrick Hamilton (CHL), Anne Herzbluth (DEU), Per Hess (NOR), Hirofumi Isoya (JPN), Sam Jinks (AUS), Grzegorz Klatka (POL), Rori Knudtson (NOR), Mehdi-Georges Lahlou (FRA), James Lavadour (USA), Helmut Lemke (DEU), Luce (LVA), Heinz Mack (DEU), Michele Manzini (ITA), Christopher Martin (USA), Christian Megert (CHE), Herre Methorst (NLD), David Middlebrook (USA), Atelier Morales (CUB), Peter Simon Mühlhäußer (DEU), Hermann Nitsch (AUT), Yoko Ono (JPN), Roman Opalka (FRA), Otto Piene (DEU), Uli Pohl (DEU), Triny Prada (FRA), Qin Chong (CHN), Stefanus Rademeyer (ZAF), Nicola Rae (GBR), Arnulf Rainer (AUT), Bogdan Rata (ROU), Thomas Riess (AUT), Rene Rietmeyer (NLD), Yhonnie Scarce (AUS), Wilhelm Scherübl (AUT), Dmitry Shorin (RUS), Nitin Shroff (IND), The Icelandic Love Corporation (ISL), Monika Thiele (DEU), Michele Tombolini (ITA), Stefan Toth (CZE), Suh Jeong Min (KOR), VALIE EXPORT (AUT), Elena & Vitaliy Vasiliev (UKR), Ben Vautier (FRA), Raphael Vella (MLT), André Wagner (DEU), Xing Xin (CHN), Plamen Yordanov (BGR), Zhang Yu (CHN).