Dark Matter-post

In an ordinary garden something extraordinary is about to happen. Shadows lengthen; the contrast between dark and light intensifies. Suddenly you sense movement. Enveloped in a soundscape and shielded by black umberellas, our small audience will be immersed in fantastical story that rises from the dark earth; a tale about the shadows creeping up from our subconscious.

Dark Matter is an outdoor, site-specific theatre production, which premiered in gardens around the north of Scotland Oct-Nov 2011. Due to tour again at the theatrezene europa Scottish-German Theatre festival in May 2012. For further informatio and bookings please contact Vision Mechanics.



•  Reviewed by Mandy Haggith from a garden in Ullapool, 2 November 2011. (Read more….)
•  NxNE: An interview with Symon MacIntyre of Vision Mechanics. (Read more…)
•  NxNe: Kenny Mathieson hears how sound will lie at the heart of Dark Matter (Read more…)

Design Process

Three wireless microphones capture live sound from the garden environment and from the actor; Emma Anderson. The sound is then processed live in Max MSP using a combination of live sampling, granular synthesis and spatialization before being mixed into the sound-scape. Some pre-recorded samples are used for particular spot effects.

The sound design is created using a combination of live audio using wireless microphones, pre recorded samples and live processing using Max MSP. The sound is spatialized and delivered to the audience as a bin-aural (3D) mix through wireless headphones.

Microphones: Sound Capture

As well as the microphone worn by the actor; Emma Anderson, primarily to capture her voice, I used two further mics, which I positioned inside two different sized pipes. I chose to put these mics inside pipes for a number of reasons; Firstly, the pipes provide shelter for the mics from the wind and rain. Secondly, I wanted to augment the ambient sounds in the garden through the natural resonance of each pipe. Each pipe resonates predominantly around a particular frequency determined by its length and width, while the material from which it is made affects its timbre.

Below are two sound files taken from the mics in the pipes. The first is a short compilation while the second is a longer compilation with a little sound from each performance in sequence from the beginning to the end of the highland tour 2011. The metal scaffolding pipe can be heard on the left, the plastic pipe can be heard on the right. No artificial effects have been added so what you hear is the pure garden sounds effected only by the resonances of the pipes.

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While the performance is fixed by the script to a linear storyline, each garden brings a new set of possible spaces, sounds and objects into the dynamic mix of interactions, making no performance the same.

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