IIE (Interactive Infrasonic Installation), infrasound for public consumption


IIE is an interactive acoustic installation through which Reinhard Gupfinger researches infrasounds, that is, those sounds that, having a frequency less than 20/16 Hertz (20/16 cycles per second), are below the audible threshold of the human ear. While the ear is insensitive to those sounds, the human body can nevertheless perceive them as vibrations. It is this possibility that the Austrian artist explores in this work, raising awareness of this relatively unknown curiosity. In fact, infrasounds are extremely common in nature, since they are emitted by atmospheric phenomena, such as thunder and wind, and by some animals (whales, elephants, etc.), which use them to communicate over distances. Road traffic and industrial machinery can also emit infrasounds in some circumstances. The abundance of low frequencies in the environment stimulates a reflection to reaffirm their importance in contemporary culture. Moving towards that goal, it is clear how this project can be interpreted as an attempt to rescue the human senses from the perceptive monopoly of noise and make them aware of those sounds that, albeit inaudible, are no less important in our daily soundscape.To reach his goal, Gupfinger built an installation that puts together quite diverse elements, including a 250 inch long organ pipe, a wind power generator and a video-tracking interface for multiuser interaction. Thanks to such a system, the public can not only perceive the infrasounds created during the performance, but can also interact with them: the users’ movements in the surrounding space control (through the video-tracking system) the wind power generator that blows into the organ pipe, varying the volume and pitch of the sounds. In practise, the users can affect the sounds being generated through their movements, increasing their awareness of infrasounds.

Vito Campanelli