What have you made?
Adeus is a sound installation that explores concepts arising from the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, whereas the perfect musical system eventually falls out of sync, mirroring the flaws and entropy inherent to human nature.
What gave you the initial inspiration?
Vinicius de Moraes, one of Brazil’s most well-known poets and musicians, along with a cadre of other musicians, developed the Brazilian music genre known as Bossa Nova. Vinicius was a multi-talented individual, working at different points in his life as a diplomat, composer, musician, and poet. One of his greatest works is Orfeu da Conceição a play that reimagines the Greek myth of Orpheus and Eurydice in a Rio de Janeiro favela during the celebration of Carnival. I grew up listening to all the songs from this play and the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice has been central to my personal development.
What is the original idea behind this project?
The idea was to work with the myth and entropy combined into a single system. The whole auditory mechanism gradually falls into disorder, but due to the system’s idiosyncrasies, it recovers from that entropy and the sensors will eventually get in sync again, only to launch their descent into chaos. From the moment Orpheus begins his journey back into the mortal world, he is gradually declining into disorder that will culminate with the death of Eurydice. Before this fateful event occurs, however, a liminal space emerges – the moment that precedes his looking back – that Nicolas Bourriaud calls an “interstice.” This small gap in space and time allows for the creation of a domain of exchanges between Orpheus and Eurydice. Ann Wroe says that "It is the moment that Orpheus loses beauty, even as he glimpses it, because it is ungraspable".
How does it work?
The piece consists of two metal plates (one brass; one copper) containing musical notation represented by etched dashes. The song is “Valsa de Eurídice” (Eurydice’s Waltz) by Brazilian poet and musician Vinicius de Moraes. The metal plates are“scanned” by an array of sensors that are attached to two linear actuators, one for each plate. When the system is triggered, both groups of sensors start moving along the plates in sync and play the song, sending MIDI signals to an audio interface that interpret them and outputs sound. Having reached the end of the plates, the sensors will move backwards and start again. However, since the system is assembled by a human, the array of sensors will slowly begin to move out of sync, altering the overall sound that is played.
How long did it take to make it real?
From concept to final piece, the work was developed in a period of four months.
How did you build it?
The main structure of the piece is comprised of belt-driven linear actuators controlled by stepper motors. The metal plates are solid brass and copper, covered with a layer of vinyl adhesive. For the sensor part, in the centre of each plate, milled aluminum, delring, and pogo pins were put together to assemble the array that reads the information on the metal. On the circuit side, an Arduino Uno with a custom made shield and two Easydrivers are used for controlling the steppers, and an Arduino Mega (also with a custom shield) is used for reading the sensors and parsing the MIDI signals to a sound module.