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Adam Donovan

“Psychophysics Machines”

Opening on September 20th 2013, 7 p.m.

Adam Donovan’s work combines the highly specialised field of scientific acoustics with the visual arts. Donovan has been researching focused acoustics and acoustic lenses since 1996 drawing on scientific research in this area to create interactive sound installations. Donovan’s interest in using lenses in his artwork evolved while he was completing his Fine Arts Degree at Griffith University, Queensland.
“The initial attraction to lenses was in their beauty and later formed into ideas about human perception and memory. For me the lens is an infinite model for my work, lenses represent the collecting of information/emotion and define a person’s view of the world. This model of perception led me to think about other senses. Auditory awareness was of particular interest because it’s secondary to vision. It became an obsession of mine in 1996 to find a way to control sound (or focus sound), I wanted to sculpt sound in space and change the way people perceive their auditory environment,” comments Adam.
Scientific collaboration has been an integral part of the work enabling him to gain the skills and expertise needed to develop prototypes for exhibitions. In this unusual area of interdisciplinary art practice, Donovan has found himself at the forefront in developing new and innovative methods of incorporating applied physics with installation art. Donovan’s collaborations are also challenging for the research scientists he works with as he is often asking them to extend the boundaries of currently available technology and their (usual) uses.

Linda Cooper

The Curious Tautophone “Projected auditory inkblot test”

"Curious Tautophone". - The name derives from projective auditory tests developed by Saul Rosenzweig and David Shakow and based on Skinners verbal Summator tests. The original Tautophone can be thought of as an Auditory Rorschach Inkblot and dates back to the 1940’s. The Greek prefix tauto, meaning “repeating the same,”

In this work the viewer is presented with a scientific object that serves as a projection device to repeat a verbal statement or incoherent sounds. For example an Incoherent voice can be heard repeating vowel sounds such as “uh-Oh-Ah-uh” or “uh-uh-I-E-uh. (Skinner, 1979, p. 175). The robot becomes a type of device for the purposes of “snaring out complexes” a role usually served by a physician in the analysis of latent memory.

The verbal summator is no longer used for such experiments and the validity of such tests should be thought of as novel and exploratory. However, I want to give the robot a chance to explore personalities and complexes and perhaps it will trigger some interesting latent responses.

The robot itself is very fun to play with and reacts to a number of situations. While viewers are not being directly tracked the robot moves through pre-defined or sequenced locations beaming various sounds into space in the aim of triggering latent speech.

It is to be thought of as an autonomous test at this stage. While approaching closer to the object the robot starts to track your head at a distance of around 5 meters (about the limit of the Kinect camera). While in this far distance mode the robot projects sounds directly at the users head. On approach the robot spins 180 degrees and tracking moves from their head to their right hand allowing a faster feedback of the tracking.

Like all my work it is fundamentally about perception through the concept of the lens, both with the lens of the sound beam and the camera tracking. Often this is a reflection of my own desire or longing and memories of machines and how intertwined we are to them.

Adam Donovan 2013

supported by bm:uk