Secrets – developed idea

1. A room with a heavy black velvet curtain – when you stand outside, you hear boisterous laughing and running from inside the room.

2. When you pull the curtain open and enter, it goes dead quiet.

3. After 1-2 seconds, you begin to hear whispers (stereo recording with as detailed space ‘imaging’ as I can muster), muffled giggles, the sound of tiptoeing and scuttling around the edges of the room.

4. After 3-5 seconds, a spotlight comes on, throwing a cone of light (like a classic follow spot) straight down, onto the floor. If you do not go into it, it will stay lit for 5-8 seconds and then go off again.

5. If you place yourself within that cone, you hear the first secret – read in an ambiguous voice (young? adult? male? female?) with a sort of stage whisper, i.e. quite loud but not clearly spoken so that the identity of the voice is somewhat disguised. After the secret is spoken, the light goes off.

6. After 3-5 seconds, another spotlight comes on, in a different location in the room. If you go there, and place yourself in the light as before, another secret is read. And so forth.

7. Depending on the size of the room, I would like to place 3-5 spotlights, that light one at a time, in the room. I have over 100 secrets, so the risk of them repeating to the same audience member is small.

8. The whispered/scuttle sound track should carry on playing as long as there is at least one person in the room. When the last person leaves the room (a counting in/out function?) the boisterous sound should begin again after 3-5 seconds.

So, according to my thinking, I would need:

1. one sensor (IR? some sort of pull?) for the entrance
2. 3-5 spotlights
3. 3-5 distance sensors (IR or ultrasound)
4. stereo recording equipment (can borrow)
5. sound system to play the different sound tracks (1. boisterous, 2. hushed, 3. secrets)
6. some way of processing these sound tracks and manage them with the input from the sensors (advice appreciated)
7. lots of wiring and a biggish room
8. have heavy velvet curtain.

Suggestion from Greg Garvey: Drop spots fade, not just come off – if one gets there on time, they ‘come back to life’ again. Also, weigh carefully the changes of ambient sound when people are in and out of the room, so that that function is not too dependent on a tightly controlled scenario – alternatively, controlling the circumstances tightly.


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