Sensuous Geographies
Sarah Rubidge
Brief description of the work:
Immersive interactive installation where participants can explore sound and movement.
Materials, dimensions, duration:
"...an enclosed space, hung with banners, some translucent, some opaque. The space is also articulated by the speakers which are placed around the space and around the perimeter of the space in which the installation is mounted. The sound is spatialised by the behaviour of the visitors, creating a mobile sound world in which visitors are fully immersed. Projected video imagery offers a shadowy reflection of the costumes appears and disappears on the banners, which are placed both within and outside of the performative space. The responsive area is defined by a textured floor cloth which gives an implicit geography and shape to the installation environment." (Rubidge online)
Location (venue & dates, public/ private):

Shown at New Territories festival, Glasgow, 4-7th February 2003; REDCAT in Los Angeles, 28, 29 January 2004 - in the REDCAT Musical Explorations Series; in Edinburgh 2003, and The Showroom, University College Chichester, 9 - 11th June 2004, In Winchester 2005, Bedford and Leicester in 2006.

Audience information (size, mode of participation):
The piece is developed for four participants whose costumes are colour-tracked to spatially direct the sounds, and further non-participatory audience members who observe.
Other information (reviews, collaborators, funders):
Sarah Rubidge (choreographer/ digital installation artist) Alistair MacDonald (composer), Maggie Moffatt (costumes), Maria Verdicchioand Sebastien Besse (installation environment)
Floorplan, scheme:
Visual/ audio-visual reference:
Key theme(s):
Social play, immersive play; interplay and fusion between a participant's physical presence and a perceived reality (sound):
Further context:

Movie 1, from New Territories, Glasgow, February 2003
Movie 2, from New Territories, Glasgow, February 2003

Sensuous Geographies is intended primarily to be a space for interaction and play. It is a performative space, for the users both generate and become an integral part of the environment as they engage with it. When activated, the piece exists simultaneously as a durational 'performance' and an immersive installation environment. The installation draws participants' attention to the subtle effects sound can have on the body itself, and from there to the geography of physical sensation which permeates human movement. (Rubidge online)

It is captivating to see and hear how participants in Sarah Rubidge’s 'Sensuous Geographies' produce complex sound performances. Partially blindfolded and each assigned a sound, they move in a space whilst listening intensely. The overlay of the sounds creates a complex composition. In this way it could be said that performative movement and active listening explore 'the intricate inter-weaving pathways of sensation in the body' (Rubidge online).

During the session at The Showroom, one participant jumped about in the space, his movements coinciding with sudden accentuated sounds. Although the audience knew the sound did not react to his movements, only to his location, he still assumed they did. He became obsessed with the attempt to gain control over action and response, and to re-create the same effect.