Samba Surdo

Lucas Werthein

Samba Surdo is an interactive eight channel sound installation that invites viewers to experience Brazilian Samba.

The main objective of developing Samba Surdo is to bring Brazilian Samba into an art installation which can engage people to become part, listen, and understand how Samba is composed. The installation is about experience and about allowing a viewer to replicate the actions of a Samba Maestro by conducting and manipulating the sounds and instruments involved in Samba. The ultimate goal is to get someone to dance to the sounds of Samba in a gallery space. The installation is composed of eight speakers distributed evenly in a circle. Each speaker receives a channel from a mixer, which represents a specific instrument that is played in a Samba orchestra. A video camera is used by the computer (out of sight in an equipment room) to track viewers in the piece, using custom computer vision software. The computer then decides, based on the location of the viewers, what each of the speakers should play. Each speaker is assigned one of the eight instruments that is played in a samba orchestra. The computer sends control signals into the audio programming software, which then does the actual playing of audio using compositions that have been aligned and synced perfectly to play endlessly. The function of the main computer is sensing, defining the interaction, and coordinating signals to play specific sounds on the each one of the eight speakers. Software was written to constantly compare the distance between the viewer and the 8 speakers, which are positioned in a circle around the person. When the user is in the exact center of the installation, all
speakers play their respective sounds. However, as the person moves closer to a set of speakers, the ones that are furthest away fade out and the ones the are closest to the person become more prominent. If the person reaches the closest distance between herself and one single speaker, all other speakers fade out and the person is able to listen to that single instrument.