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<13> Nicolas Collins

Truth In Clouds is at one and the same time a site-specific interactive audio installation, and the set and principle mechanism for a musical performance. The piece takes its form, and its inspiration, from the 19th Century culture of seances, and the tumult of scientific and philosophical thought that surrounded it. The set's central object is a »seance table« -- a large round wooden table upon which stands an inverted wineglass. The movement of this wineglass by visitors or performers controls localized audio and visual manifestations throughout the room and directs the actions of live musicians.

From the ultra-rational perspective of our digital age it may be difficult to understand the profound connection that once existed between the science of electricity and the »pseudo-science« of Spiritualism. As with atomic physics a generation later, early electrical discoveries -- man-made lightning, telephony, telegraphy, radio -- all seemed to point beyond the known physical world into one of essences, from intuitive mechanical causality into something demonstrable but nonetheless unknowable. Seances drew the interest not only of artists and theologians, but of scientists and engineers: Faraday, Wheatstone, Morse, and Tesla all attended them. They sat, grouped around a table, while spirits spoke to them, writings mysteriously appeared on table tops, wine glasses moved, or furniture tapped.

Using a combination of digital technology, traditional instruments, and familiar household objects, Truth in Clouds attempts to recreate this poignant causality, flickering between forthright and mysterious, as well as to explore the collective collaboration with invisible comrades that so strangely links Spiritualism to Cyberspace.


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