Statistical Harp (2006-7)

Statistical Harp at E:vent Gallery, London (2009)

Statistical harp and other machines (2006-7)

Coti K & Dimitris Charitos


Exhibited at:

Cheap Art Gallery (Athens, Greece)
State Museum of Contemporary Art (Thessaloniki, Greece)
E:vent Gallery (London, UK), Curator: Chloe Vasitsou

Statistical Harp is an installation by Coti and D. Charitos that takes its name from the ancient Aeolic Harp, which was probably the first ever sound installation (6th century B.C.) that was usually located on hilltops and produced sound by the wind vibrating its strings.

In the case of the Statistical Harp, the wind as a vibrating source is replaced by a literary text (namely James Joyce's Finnegan's Wake), which is fed into the system in a non-linear manner. The flow of the text is broken into letters and consequently into ascii code, which functions as a kind of "Morse code" trigger for a series of motors plucking wire ropes. These wire ropes play a multiple function in this installation: firstly, as structural elements, secondly as sound producing material and thirdly as visual elements. The structural role of the ropes is to support all input/output devices, including the multi-channel speaker system, which produces the spatialized auditory aspect of the experience. Additionally, the occurrence of the text's letters is statistically analyzed and the result of this analysis affects the pitch parameter in the processing of sounds, originally produced by the wire ropes and consequently transmitted by the speakers.

The presence and movement of visitors within the installation environment is detected and used as another parameter affecting the manner in which the Statistical Harp transforms the flowing text into audio. This information transformation is one of the main issues that Coti and D. Charitos have dealt with when producing Statistical Harp. The main intention of the work is to create a constantly evolving spatialized sound environment, modulated by the flow of a particular text and visitors' activity in an indirect and non-apparent manner.

In terms of technical realization, the work is an installation consisting of:

    24 steel wires attached to the surrounding walls
    8 speakers, 8 DC motors, 8 piezo pickups, 8 mic pre-amps
    an 8 in/out soundcard
    4 stereo amplifiers
    a PC running the software part of the system
    2 video cameras
    an input/output controller interface
    a few hundred meters of wire

Statistical Harp has been exhibited in Greece (Athens and Thessaloniki) and the UK (London).