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The Lake PDF Print E-mail
Poster Sessions
Aug 04, 2006 at 12:00 AM

Julie Freeman, David Muth

 fish, audio, composition, animation, underwater, installation, site-specific, lake, art, unpredictable systems

The Lake is the first in a series of artworks that track groups of animals via electronic tagging systems and transforms the motion data collected into musical composition and animated visuals. Supported by NESTA and presented at Tingrith Fishery, UK, the site-specific work collected real-time movement data from sixteen fish and used a modular software system to create a unique digital audiovisual experience for visitors. The work explores how we can create an interface for communication between biological systems and technological systems in an artistic context.


The Lake artwork was realised on-site at Tingrith Fishery, Bedfordshire, England in July 2005 through to October 2005.

It resided within a 9 meter tall cylindrical steel structure that sits dominant in the view across The Lake, commanding attention. Inside, an immersive space with surround sound and a visually dynamic ceiling display encouraged visitors to dwell in the tower and engage fully with the work. By looking up at the animation the viewer felt as if they were in an artificial digital lake, absorbed in an environment filled with vibration, movement and spatialised audio composed by, and reflective of, the fish swimming live in The Lake.

Sixteen bio-acoustically tagged fish (4 of each different species) were continually monitored in their normal habitat and provided a constant data feed to a three computer system each running elements of The Lake software. The system aimed to coax melody and rhythm out of unplanned, un-orchestrated events.

The work was designed to illustrate a hidden world of fish movement and present it as an artistic performance by using technology; creating an interface between biological behaviours and the digital art platform, posing the question - can the rhythmic beauty of a fish movement be translated into aural composition?

I propose to present documentation of the artwork and discuss the conception, design, production processes and methodologies in addition to the numerous questions the work raised and the feedback from a very diverse audience. I will evaluate whether the objectives were met, the initial objectives being:
* To create beautifully rich living art that reflects the life it observes, a mergence of technology and nature
* To track many different species globally and create animated soundscapes from their movement and behaviour
* To bring art works to unusual locations and audiences that encourage inspiration through exposing concealed beauty that surround us in the natural world
* To investigate new forms of music composition
* To collect new data sets and make them available on-line to scientists and researchers for analysis
* To develop a modular software application that will enable multi-dimensional data to be represented in a dynamic way

I’d also like to raise questions for the audience that I had to confront during the 30 month project including:
*How can you predict the output of a project (for sponsors or press) when the system is based on a unpredictable element?
*The ethics behind using fish (or other live animals) in art work, is it acceptable? What if the fish were kittens?
*The notion of setting up indefinite systems to run alone, how many and how long can they continue, how can art institutions and artists maintain a full–time, always on artwork?
*Am I an event organiser, a construction site worker, a press officer, a financier, a programmer, an electrician, an inventor or an artist? Does it matter? The time spent on production of the work versus conceptual and theoretical development is unbalanced, how can this be addresses.

The Lake animation

NESTA artist profile

Last Updated ( Aug 07, 2006 at 01:58 AM )
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