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Bridge Over Troubled Water

Bridge Over Troubled Water is a collaboration between Yoko Takashima and myself.

The project is an generative video piece, exhibited as an interactive installation. The video is a live morphing of many faces simultaneously singing the song “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon And Garfunkel.

A projector displays the video against a wall of the space. When a person enters the empty room, there is silence. As you approach the video projection you begin to hear the voices of the people shown. The faces are blending into one another, and the volume of their voices changes along with how visible they are in the mix.

This project is a generative art piece. As it plays it creates itself anew, each rendition is a different combination of faces and voices. The result is an ever changing choir, with video imagery that varies from the beautiful to the grotesque.

We captured 37 amateur singers singing “Bridge Over Troubled Water.” We used a green screen behind singers during filming, allowing us to add a video background in the post production. The captured videos were then synced together so the timing was identical between clips. I created a piece of software using Cycling 74’s Max, which is where the mixing and generation of the final work happens.

Each time a loop of the song begins, 8 clips are randomly chosen from the 37 available. A bit of JavaScript decides how visible each of the 8 videos will be. The images are combined using slab processing. This is very computationally intense, so a powerful computer is needed.

An Xbox Kinect is the hardware used to add the interactive component of the piece. The Kinect’s depth camera captures viewer distance from the projection wall. The distance of the viewer from the projected image is captured and results in the audio output levels.

Bridge Over Troubled Water was first exhibited in 2015 at The University of Victoria’s UVic’s Legacy Gallery in Victoria, BC. In 2016 it was exhibited at the Chapel Gallery in North Battleford, Saskatchewan.

A big thank you to Dodd’s Eye Media for documenting the gallery opening!