What The Fest 2016

I'm Listening


This was the first major event with Myles de Bastion and CymaSpace and one of the most challenging. It was a sound-reactive light installation in the art walk of What the Festival 2016. Nine LED triangles were raised up among the trees with a vintage microphone hanging from the middle. People talking, singing, or screaming into the microphone would cause colors to radiate out from the center of the triangles and fill the trees with a colorful light display.


Being an outdoor installation we faced many environmental challenges. It rained the first few days of setup before the start of the festival. We used a pop up tent to cover us and the installation while we constructed it. A plastic sheet was used to weather proof it before hanging it from the trees.

Lots of the coding was done on-the-fly and without internet to solve problems we encountered.

When no one was using the installation it didn't display any colors, leaving it hidden among the trees at night. So we turned a few LED strips into arrows and programmed them to radiate colors across them, directing people from the main path down to the install. Then we programmed the installation to fade into a twinkling, starry pattern when there was a longer period of silence. The LED ring around the microphone was programmed to spin with random colors, prompting people to use it.

Bass from a nearby sound stage was causing the install to react and we didn't have any audio equipment to filter it. So the code was modified so that one of the knobs on the device would control a software-based high-pass filter, giving us the ability to ignore sound pollution.

I had learned some basic ASL while working with Myles and other CymaSpace volunteers. But working all day for many days in a row, we encountered many communication challenges. My ASL improved a lot and I learned a lot about myself and body language and communication.


Finally, after overcoming all the obstacles and feeling like we could leave it for a night, we went out and enjoyed the festival together. It was the last day of the festival and the full moon solstice. Myles created a sound-reactive hat to wear around the festival. We taught a few people the sign for "cool hat". We danced and met new people, letting go of our creation and embracing the creativity of others.