Star Chamber

Terence McDermott (2015)

3Q6A0138

This piece is an exercise in the sonification and visualisation of data. Chaotic data is generated by a simple mathematical algorithm, and it is represented as particles which emerge and die away in a virtual space. These same particles also have a sonic presence, to articulate the structures generated. It is a represention of an abstract mathematical space within a real space (the listening/viewing space), mediated through a virtual space. In this sense the piece can be seen as a spatial collage, with disparate spaces layered upon each other.
The idea of collage is further extended by juxtaposing the representational (data visualisation) with the expressive (human voice). Here the piece attempts to enter another space, the so-called psychological space. Representation of abstract structures is usually arbitrary, and based on principles of convenience and clarity. The mode of representation itself does not contain any expressive meaning. This piece attempts to play around with the idea of meaning and representation, by deconstructing the voice, through its particularization, separating out its symbolic meaning from the sounds themselves, taking us back in time, to a preverbal state. The title refers to a medieval court of law where, if individuals were seen to behave immorally, but not technically breaking any law, they could be summoned by the Council of the Star Chamber to defend their actions and reflect on their past deeds. The ceiling of the chamber was decorated with stars, to remind the individual of their place in the universe. This installation could be a star chamber of sorts, where perhaps we can travel back to our preverbal past, riding the waves of utterance, where all actions and events emerge from a sense of the self and the world being one and the same.

This piece has been created with the collaboration of Kornelia Bruggmann, vocalist, and the assistance of Bojan Milosevic. Thanks to Jan Schacher and ICST for the opportunity to make this work. (TM ICST Spring Residency May 2015)


Star Chamber by Terence McDermott, ICST in May 2015.


Artist Interview with Terence McDermott, where he talks about the piece’s origins, making, results and other aspects of working in the immersive lab (in English).