Dana Turkovic, the Curator of Exhibitions at Laumeier, first approached Eric Hall about "Electric Is The Love" several months ago. The goal of the exhibit is to focus on how human interaction is changing and being modified through technology. Dana and Eric shared a lengthy dialogue about ideas and possibilities. After several revisions and subsequent tweaking, the two arrived at an idea that worked. Eric Hall began recording hours and hours of audio from users on anonymous web cam chat service Chat Roulette. Hall wasn't particularly active on Chat Roulette, but instead left a screen full of text, explaining that he was collecting pieces of sound for an exhibit. Hall even attempted to have users speak dialogue that he had prepared. Most of them did not, but Hall collected many hours of usable recordings.
"So many people use a feature on their computer microphone that minimizes background noise, producing a unique, filtered sound." says Hall. Most of the audio samples collected include the typing of plastic keyboard keys, background music and other ambient noises of an Internet user. The audio from the exhibit includes samples that vary in size, and even come as small as a millisecond of someone coughing or strange computer processed noise.
The exhibit itself uses a motion sensor software called "Video Trigger". In Video Trigger you first take a photograph of a room using a web cam, then draw little zones over the image. Each zone will trigger a sound when its borders are entered, and the audio will stop once the area has been cleared. Four speakers have been set up around the room in a peculiar manner. Once an individual enters a zone on the west side of the room, a sound will play on the east side, causing the visitor to walk across the room to pursue the noise. Once they leave their zone and enter into a new space, a fresh sound is then triggered on the opposite side of the room. Eric Hall has users literally chasing the ambient sounds of anonymous Chat Roulette users. This is sculpted to display one's voyeuristic inclination. Hall manipulates their eavesdropping tendency. Everything runs through one computer with a four channel interface.
Eric Hall has done a lot of installations, but this is the first he has worked with a full staff. Laumeier Sculpture Park has engineers and professional installers to assist the artists. For instance, Hall brought four powered speakers and hung them from the ceiling facing down. When he returned the next day, the speakers had been dressed in interesting contraptions, arranged perfectly. When Eric Hall had finished wiring the components for the piece, he left the wires strewn about the floor. Only days later the slack had been picked up, all excess wiring had been neatly tucked away.
Eric Hall has been offered a residency at the Laumeier Sculpture Park. This means that for the next year, Laumeier will fund and facilitate Hall's auditory ideas in a manner appropriate for the space. Hall will have an engineer and a full staff at his fingertips to help craft his audio machinations for an entire year.
The first of many is "Reconnecting to random server..." and opens on Saturday October 29th, 2011 as part of the sound art exhibit "Electric Is The Love" curated by Dana Turkovic.
Eric Hall will be performing on November 12th, 2011 at 4 p.m. in Beverly Pepper's earthwork sculpture Cromlech Glen, located in Laumeier Sculpture Park's Nature Trail.
Eric Hall has been featured at multiple art galleries, nearing one dozen different installations. Hall has done work for the Contemporary Art Museum, the St. Louis Art Museum and the White Flag art gallery. Amongst these projects, Eric Hall has created interactive sound sculptures (designed for kids). Hall's latest piece is included in the exhibit "Electric Is The Love" which includes new works by Dave Derington, Christopher Ottinger, Yo_Cy (Christine Yogiaman and Ken Tracy) and Robin Assner and Adam Watkins. The exhibition begins October 29th, 2011 and lasts until January 22, 2011.