program 2001: science + fiction Media art exhibition Hidden Parameters Films by Miklós Erdély update 2.0 Contemporary German media art exhibition Science and Fiction in Media Art, International symposium Exhibition in the Barcsay Hall of the Hungarian Academy of
Fine Arts

Atau Tanaka - Kasper Toeplitz
Global String, 1998
Interactive installation, 1998

Atau Tanaka and Kasper Toeplitz's interactive installation is a multi-sited, networked musical composition. It is an instrument whose vibrations are transmitted by the Internet with the assistance of a real-time sound synthesizing system. The basic idea is the creation of a musical string similar to a guitar or violin string that stretches around the globe. Its vibrations travel around the world, creating the possibility for musical communication between the connected sites (in the present case, Budapest and the Ars Electronica Center in Linz).

The installation comprises a real string, which is connected to a virtual string on the Internet. The real string has a diameter of 12 mm, is 15 meters long and stretches diagonally from the floor of the hall towards the ceiling. Down, on the floor, the one end touches the Earth. Above, it joins the network, and through it, to terminals situated in other parts of the world. When a visitor plucks the string, the analogue impulses of the vibration are translated by sensors into digital signals. The server is the instrument's 'bridge' - the point of reflection. Running through it is the software that creates a physical model of an unrealistically sized string. With the aid of video, the data flows back in every direction, in this way creating a visual connection between the visitors of the individual venues. 'The possibilities of technology - as is often said - are infinite,' says Tanaka. 'But still I think it is better if I do not do everything. I am trying to find the language of instruments. The movements of the upper body of musicians interest me - to find out what the gestures mean in a purely musical interpretation, when the instrument is removed.' Tanaka plays an instrument called Bio Muse, as a member of the musical group Sensorband.

'Finally, a string is created the length of which changes continuously, the environmental conditions of which are constantly transformed. If it were a short section of string, then the wind would probably vibrate it. This was the original idea.' In the case of the Global String, the sound experience does not come from the effect of the wind, but through the Internet. Atau Tanaka understands the continuously changing conditions of the network as being the mode by which the data packages reach their destinations through the Internet. The delay differentiates the Internet from all other instruments. The user first has to learn how to treat it. In the case of the majority of net projects, the musicians try to avoid this characteristic, instead of building this given into their performances. 'The fact that the web delays in reality is interesting. It slows our music down, as the distances are great and the delays long. Network music, perhaps, provides an insight into what all this actually means.'

Produced with the financial assistance of The Daniel Langlois Foundation for Art, Science and Technology.