"Anonymous Muttering" (1996) is an interactive installation by Knowbotic Research.
In the project "Anonymous Muttering", Knowbotic Research organized unpredictable light and sound events which could be experienced in a specially designed installation at the Dutch Institute of Architecture (NAI) as well as via a website on the Internet. DJ's at several party events in the city produced sounds, which were appropriated to be converted and split into fragments of digital information. This digital material could then be worked on, manipulated and recomposed by visitors of the installation at the NAI by means of a special interface made of a silicon membrane. By bending and folding this membrane, the sounds were also 'folded' and 'bent'. The effects of this interaction could be heard in a large 3D sound and light object which was located on the NAI's roof and was accessible to the public. The same material also controlled and scattered the light: spotlights were set up in two vertical circles, wrapping the visitor in a dense fabric of lights and sounds.
The digital sound could also be manipulated via an interface on the website of DEAF96. Very similar to the process with the membrane in the installation, a 3D shape could be 'bent' and 'folded' and could be experienced live with RealAudio software. Because the material was also continuously transformed by the computer, it was impossible to decide who produced which effect. The visitors in the installation, the visitors on the Net and the computer interacted and in this way produced an anonymous and unpredictable result.
The concept (1996)
Digital worlds and the physical world do not simply coexist. They influence each other and in the project by Knowbotic Research they even become intertwined. Here specific features of the Net such as its uncontrollability and non-hierarchical structure are used for the production of events in the city itself: on the 'fault line' between the Net and the World hybrid domains are forming in a melting pot of human and machine induced manipulations. Not only are the traces that lead to the sources 'off camera', but a deliberate effort is being made to arrive at a 'situation which is not situated'. Our own influence in this is no longer traceable: the influence is unmistakably there, but what it is and how it functions becomes obscured in these fragmented images and sounds with neither beginning nor end. It is only one of the elements in the whole process that takes place here. In this context our awareness of our own actions takes on a different meaning, quite the opposite of the way we think in relations of causality, which may be complex but can in principle be analyzed. Acting here becomes an activity amidst a 'panta rhei', where some elements are stressed more than others. The question therefore will become one of how an individual act is related to this stream and whether man will still act if no discernible reaction follows. When subject becomes detached from subjectivity, the boundaries of the individual are crossed.