Quiet Ensemble: turning goldfish into unwitting musicians
“Quiet Ensemble, the Italian team we spoke with for our most recent Tech Q&A, turn goldfish into unwitting musicians with their installation Quintetto. Each of five large water tanks contains a goldfish. With software detecting their movements within the tanks, each fish alters an ambient sound by swimming in various directions, creating a random symphony, and never playing the same song twice.”
The Creators Project: Who are you and what do you do?
Bernardo Vercelli: We are a freshly made collective called Quiet ensemble composed of Fabio Di Salvo and myself. We live just outside Rome in our studio-house. It’s a special place—it used to be a barn and a coffin factory! We focus on the greatness of small events, observing natural elements and mixing them with technology. We try to create universes made [from] the elements of chaos and control, searching for the balance between the two.
What kind of hardware do you use?
We often use Arduino, Luigino, and Peppino (OK the last one does not exist…), and various electronic devices and Apple [products], lots of Apple.
What kind of software do you use?
We started doing our first works using basically Isadora, a software built for theatre and real-time projects. Isadora takes its name from Isadora Duncan, the great choreographer. Right now we are getting more into Max/MSP/Jitter, and at the same time looking into open-source [softwares] like Processing, Pure Data, and openFrameworks. And of course, we use TextEdit.
What piece of equipment can you simply not live without?
Right now it would be MIO sensors, microphones, Kinect, video projectors and… well, insects.
If money were no object, how would you change your current setup?
We would have a deeper, dreamier relation to life, erase our economical needs, and not call what we do “work,” but life. Probably we would have much more time to focus on what we like. That does not mean that we don’t like what we actually do, but many times we have to approach different kind of works in a way where the commercial side prevails. We always try to research elements that are interesting to us, even if the project focuses on commercial use.
Is there any piece of technology that inspired you to take the path you did?
Fabio Di Salvo: Praxinoscope
What is your favorite piece of technology from your childhood?
Vercelli: Game Boy, and it actually came close to ruining my childhood.
Di Salvo: I had a huge car track game. I loved it.
What fantasy piece of technology would you like to see invented?
Vercelli: A machine that would tell me exactly what I want and what I need.
Di Salvo: I would like to see times where electricity is transmitted through the air.