HAUNT is an audiovisual installation based around the ideas associated with hauntology and nostalgia. There are two parts to the overall project, the first part being an online version of the installation which combines the audio and the projected visual elements of the installation. The visuals are a combination of footage shot throughout the course of the project, and footage retrieved from family home videos from the late eighties/early nineties. The more recent footage was edited to make it harder to distinguish that it was shot more recently than the home videos. The composition of the footage consists of 5 separate windows, each of which were projected onto separate panels for the installation. The use of repetition in the visual was to match the repetition used in the audio, and to also further engage the audience in the visual elements of the project. The visuals also become increasingly more abstract throughout the first three quarters of the video. This is to emphasise the idea that memories, over time, can often become warped and unrealistic.

The second part to the project, is the audiovisual installation itself. The first location of the installation was a grammar school built in the 1600’s. The aesthetics and architecture of the building helped to compliment the nostalgic and aged qualities of the audio and visuals. The installation itself featured five separate wooden panels that each of the five sections of video were projected onto. Speakers were set up on either side of these panels to project the sound. In front of the panels, a combination of programmed lights (LEDs) and standard household lamps were placed on the floor to create an extra dimension to the projecct. The lights were programmed using a combination of an Arduino UNO and Max 6, the Arduino board configuration and Max patch are shown below:

The second installation was set up as part of a selection of graduate work and enabled me to treat the project as more of a gallery piece. The installation at the first location was set up as more of a cinematic experience, with the audience generally sitting or standing throughout the project. From this, I was able to plan the installation for the second location to be more of an engaging experience for the audience. The laptop from which the project ran from in the first location was hidden from view behind the projection panels. Less lights were also used meaning that less cables and wires were present on the floor, enabling the audience to move more freely within the space of the installation.

The inspiration behind the audio is a combination of 3 artists in particular: Burial, Sun Glitters and Boards of Canada. Through the use of processed samples, pitch shifted vocals and subtle degradation of the sound, I set out to create a piece of music that would encompass the most prominent techniques used by each of these artists, as well as creating a sense of nostalgia that accompanies the visuals.

Contextual Reflection

Concentrating first on the audio, I researched a lot of work produced by Burial, Boards of Canada and Sun Glitters. All three of these artists already have influence on the music that I produce but the idea behind the sound for this project was to concentrate on certain production values that are present in all three of these artists work. Focusing predominantly on the production techniques used by Boards of Canada, as it is their music that best fits the style of the visuals. The main objective for me was to create a Lo-Fi feel to the music through the use of techniques such as adding saturation, altering the sample rate and including vinyl crackle. I feel the music has a certain warmth to it that is often present in Boards of Canada’s productions. I also added a common technique used by Boards of Canada, which is to time shift vocal samples, usually by half to a quarter its original speed. This adds a lethargic and haunting effect to the vocal sample. Repetition is common technique used by Burial, Boards of Canada and Sun Glitters. I set out to encompass this technique as much as I could within the audio as the visuals also had a repetitious element to them, therefore accentuating the overall idea of repetition. The use of side chaining was inspired by Sun Glitters, particularly the track, “High”. This features side-chaining throughout and adds an extra dynamic to the music. Having the dynamics of the track change in such a way through the use of side-chaining emphasises the more rhythmical elements of the audio. Although the side-chaining used in HAUNT is not as prominent as that used in “High”, I believe the result is still as effective as HAUNT is not a particularly rhythmically heavy track. The use of vinyl crackle was inspired by Burial, and his frequent use of vinyl crackle within his music. Not only did this emphasise the lo-fi aesthetic of the audio, it also linked well to the visuals, which were purposefully made to look older than they actually were.

As for the visuals, after researching the visuals used by the likes of Boards of Canada and Sun Glitters, and compiling footage from family home videos, I wanted to re-create the degradation present on the home videos, on to the footage shot more recently. This was so that the difference in age between the two would become less distinguishable. Also, in a similar way to the videos of these artists, I edited some of the footage in more abstract ways to create even more contrast with the original footage.

Project Summary

Overall, I believe the project was a successful one and came up to my original expectations even though the online and installation versions of the project changed from the original proposal/brief. This was due to such things as ongoing development throughout the project from gaining a better understanding of what I wanted out of the project. The progression of the installation became an important part of the overall project. I was able to learn from the first installation and then use these found improvements to plan the second installation more effectively. Specifically, these improvements enabled me to approach the second installation in a less cinematic way, and instead, concentrate on it being more of an engaging experience for the audience. This was done through being aware of the specific placements of the equipment used to encourage the audience to move in and around the installation rather than stand away from the installation looking in. By presenting the installation in a second, separate setting, I also gained a wider range of feedback for the finished project. The first location was an older setting which complimented the aged aesthetics of the visuals. The shape and size of the location also provided good acoustics for the audio. The intention from the beginning was not to approach each of the installations differently but due to the arrangement and set up of the first installation, I was able to make improvements to the second installation and make sure that it was how I had originally intended the installation to be. However, this does not mean that the first installation was unsuccessful as I was able to learn from it to improve the second one. The audience were much more engaging throughout the second installation as they were encouraged to move in and around the installation, with some of the audience sitting down within the installation which enabled them to feel more involved with the installation.

As for the music, I believe that the overall production and mood of the music compliments the nostalgic intentions of the project. The visuals were made after the music so that they could be edited to match the pace and feeling of the music. I was then able to go back to the audio after completing the visuals to make some final adjustments. One of the most challenging parts of the visuals was getting the more recent footage to look as old and weathered as the older footage. Most of the time, the effects I applied were too obvious and were too distracting to give a convincing effect. By creating convincing degradation for all of the more recent footage used, I was then able to add more abstract effects over this footage to fit with the more abstract elements of the music. The music was approached in such a way that no unnecessary elements were added that may distract the listener from the overall nostalgic experience. There are certain aspects of the music that are present throughout the majority of the music, which provide a sense of repetition. Other elements are added over the top of these repetitious elements, such as the pitch shifted vocals. The pitch shifted vocals also helped to add a more haunting quality to the music.