Family Life - recomposed - Yann COPPIER

Presented during the IRCAM Forum Workshops 2023 in Paris.

Binaural intimacy Invisible Choreography multichannel sound non-anthropocentric art re-composition

Family life, and children in general are commonly associated with chaos and unsolicited noise. Something sound artists themselves mostly try to avoid, as the worst place for them to work. This 16-loudspeaker installation, in opposition, aims at celebrating the musicality in everyday life, where intimacy and brutality, tensions and resolutions, power and abandonment are all intrinsically linked together.

24 hours in the life of a family of four were thus recorded through a network of omnidirectional microphones set in an apartment located on a pedestrian street of Copenhagen, early 2022. The technique used doesn’t aim at recording people, instruments nor objects in a defined space though, but the space itself including its full acoustics in which, incidentally, people, instruments and/or objects might be interacting. Making it counter-intuitively a non-anthropocentric work, in which the family is merely inhabiting a living space.

The final piece re-composes the apartment on 16 loudspeakers in a big empty room. It is a full 3D celebration of the musicality in everyday life, where intimacy and brutality, tensions and resolutions, power and abandonment are all intrinsically linked together. Performed in a recreated apartment (using tape on the floor to show where the walls are), it allows the audience to experience a most intimate world from the apartment’s point of view, everywhere and nowhere at the same time, as it seemingly encapsulates everything, even sounds from the outside, in a 100m2 box filled with emotions…

In January 2022 a first highly immersive version which blended discussions, drama and music, both instrumental and spectral, was created at Inter Arts Center, Malmö, Sweden. As the most complex dramaturgies unfolded on an everyday basis, in a place few people external to the inner family circle are allowed to peek, it pushed participants to walk among “ghosts”: other people’s memories seemed to walk literally through them – or was the audience reduced to ghosts itself?

The project is now developing through a second residence in March 2023, with a clear goal to expand its emotional content, develop its concept and present it in front of a wider audience. Also, placing the family (or the apartment in which the family lives) in the center of the art piece implies a potential radical change in the way we as a society consider our ties to what we could call our inner and outer lives, maybe by joining them – at least for some time.

To be noted the installation was created using a specific recording technique developed during three years of artistic research ('Absurd Sounds', JAR edition 23), which will be presented with examples. It was finally rendered to dynamic binaural sound using sensors combined with SPAT Revolution, allowing its audience to become ghosts in a living – yet invisible – family, or to witness memories flying around them. Here SPAT was used to prototype, test, document and finally transpose the piece to new spaces.