author: Marek Zygmunt
june 2005

Instrument for Fish

In this project I would like to create an installation, which makes possible playing music in duo with a fish. My goal is to establish an interaction between a creature and me, with which until now there has been no chance at all to communicate in the field of music. Instrument for Fishes is a project based on instrument-installation that is accompanied by a concert of electronic music during which this installation is used. The instrument-installation consists of video camera, which follows fish movements and electronic devices that transpose the algorithm of that movement into the sound composition. The full set is built of an aquarium, video camera, computer, resonator and loud speakers. In the concert of electronic music, during which that described installation is used to perform the composition, a fish takes part together with the installation and with me using my own instruments and conducting the whole performance together with the fish.


Installation description.

The installation consists of an aquarium with the fish behind which there is a dark background. The fish should be rather big and bright, one of that kind which is characterised by liveliness and preferences for penetrating the whole space of an aquarium. A fish put into the aquarium is observed by the video camera. Signal from the camera is transported to the computer and then to the loud speakers. The base of the installation is an especially written program, which gives the possibility to change the image of fish movement into sound composition. The aquarium should be clean (without flora and with minimal amount of the devices which keeps the fish alive: heater, thermometer and oxen device). Dark background of the aquarium is in contrast to the bright colour of the fish that - from the camera point of view - changes her into a bright moving point in the lateral plane of the aquarium. Movement of the fish is observed from outside by the video camera and then transmitted into the computer. Special software changes image of the fish movement into the sound composition. It also converts information about every alteration in the co-ordinates of the fish position into the sound algorithm, in which the height of fish position is equal to pitch of sound and movement speed is equal to frequency of its pulsing. That gives the elements of musical composition - changes of the tempo and pitch of tone. During the performance the artist plays a composition together with the fish using laptop, looping device and midi-device. In the finale the fish plays itself as an installation.

"Technical development gives people the possibility of development at the different fields. In my project called Element (2000) I gave the proof that man uses progress in order to fulfil his physical and spiritual requirements. Heading for the technical civilization ruled by new laws we may explore and use experience from the relations unknown up till now. Technical progress provides us with new pure functional inventions, but also creates devices that give us possibilities to explore new fields, i.e. in the field of dialogue between people and animals. When I was building the Instrument for Fishes I created unique possibility to establish contact with an animal using sound. I also provide the fish with possibility to use this instrument. Although fishes do not hear they can feel pulsations and react to them. When the fish will learn how to use that instrument, it can communicate with me. Music appeases human need for intercourse with sounds. Compositions are sets of sounds, which increase auditory sensation, and when they are put together as harmonic and rhythmic sequences, they produce pleasure. Animals as well feel pleasure when listen to the music; scientific research gave the proof that animals positively react to the classical music. They probably have inclination toward regulation of sound layers in order to create most favourable compositions for their ears. My conclusion is that if the fish finds out the interdependence between its own position and change of tones and rhythms, it will have a chance to learn how to play its own composition."


main page