Last October, Véronique Béland was in residence at Avatar. With the collaboration of Alexandre Burton (Artificiel), she developed the computer programming for the sound design and interactive component of her project.
Generative installation | December 16, 2020 to March 7, 2021
Connected to sensors that increase the threshold of human perception, the receiver of a needle telegraph reacts to variations in its immediate environment. The process involves training an artificial intelligence to analyze imperceptible phenomena—the evolution of electromagnetic waves present in the space in different forms—in order to detect meaning: speech, words, sentences, etc. Seated in front of the device, the viewer is first invited to listen to the sound produced by this strange machine, as it transposes the signal analyzed by the neural network into audible frequencies: a fluctuating white noise whose modulations are sometimes similar to the voice’s formants. Whenever a direct hit occurs, the telegraph activates to transmit these messages from the ether—whether or not they are comprehensible. By placing their hands on the table top, the visitor can interact with the work and, through their presence, take part in the quest for a “beyond,” thanks to a system that filters the signal to reveal fundamental frequencies. All the machine’s activity is recorded in a logbook containing all the mysterious information uncovered by the neural network. Although we may be trapped in the illusion of one world, this installation attempts to imagine other possible parallel or underlying worlds. By relying on the technological promises of the future, it offers a new understanding of the present.
Notions of the ghostly and the spectral, which haunt Béland’s work and research, are once again called upon in the Haunted Telegraph. The artist aims to provide viewers with favourable conditions for listening and receptivity that can reveal their own “ghosts,” as well as offer them some downtime for noticing and observing what normally escapes them.
Co-produced by Association AY128 – Les Usines, Avatar (Quebec City), Le Lieu Multiple, Espace Mendès France (Poitiers), and the Chroniques platform; supported by the Conseil Régional de la Région Sud, City of Marseille, and Institut Français (Paris), coordinated by Seconde Nature and ZINC. The project was supported by the Contrat de filière arts plastiques et visuels en Nouvelle-Aquitaine (Ministry of Culture, Région Nouvelle Aquitaine, and Réseau Astre). With the support of the Canada Council for the Arts, the Conseil des arts et des lettres du Québec, the City of Quebec, and the CCSTI – Réseau néo-aquitain de la culture scientifique. Computer programming, sound design, and interactivity: Alexandre Burton (Artificiel). Computer programming, artificial intelligence (deep learning): Léo Dubus. Antenna production and telegraph mechanization: FabLab Les Usines. Set design: FabLab Les Usines.