Seaquakes (Tremblement de mer) is an outdoor sound installation meant to be presented near water sites and other locations exposed to strong winds, made from six large suspended metal sheets (1m50 x 3m) that are brought to life by an audio signal sent through them and vibrating in sympathy with the wind.
Loudspeakers, fixed directly to each metal sheet, sends through them pure sinewaves (sinus), controlled by a computerized system (Max/Msp), up to the sheets saturation point. Sound vibrations then start to take shape : the loudspeaker, like the bow on a violin, puts the metal sheets in vibration in a way that creates a soundscape, but an extremely static one because of the sinusoid nature of the sounds used. Then the ambiant wind comes into play : by also putting in vibration the metal sheets already excited by the sinewaves, it colours and enrich the initial soundscape by modulating it with its force, giving the whole installation a genuine organic dimension, which is also appealing for the eye as it creates patterns of light that move in sync with the sound (please consult the Seaquakes document for pictures).
Premiered in September 2004 in Montreal’s Vieux-Port (during the « Escales improbables » festival), Tremblement de mer (Seaquakes) aimed at putting some emphasis on the power of wind which has control over the modulation of the soundscape and also on the beauty of the urban location. With the St-Lauwrence River as backdrop on one side and Montreal’s downtown on the other, this sound installation placed the audience in an unusual situation that offered them the chance to also contemplate the sonic and visual landscape of their own city.
Conception : Jean-François Laporte
Production : Jean-François Laporte, Martin Ouellet and Productions Totem Contemporain
Development of the electric system : Jean-François Laporte
Programming : Benjamin Thigpen, Jean-François Laporte, Benjamin Thigpen
Thanks to : Martin Ouellet and Escales Improbables (Montreal – Quebec)
This version of Seaquakes was created and filmed at the Escales Improbables Festival – Montreal, September 17th 2004.