MaxRes – Ars Electronica, Linz

Max Res was an installation by Bruce Odland and Sam Auinger which linked the Linz Railway Terminal , the Train Platform and the Ars Electronica Festival in a harmonic and melodic interface of human, machine, and information.  The installation brought up questions of Public and Private Space ( which space is in your headphones if its a simultaneous transmission of public area cross town?),  If this is interactive then why can’t we control those people on the screen? (they are real people not a video game) and sense ration: our choice was 30/70, eyes to ears.

On the Platform

The various sounds coming from trains on many platforms, people, announcements, automatic doors, and  baggage carts are reduced by a tuning tube to one harmonic series.  The mic inside the tube hears all of these activities as a shifting chord based on the fundamental length of the tube and its partials.  This sound is sent into the control room to a computer where it is digitally filtered.

In The Terminal

The humanoid figure of MAX greets you as you arrive from the trains.  His head is a binaural microphone sending a clear stereo mix across town.  His chest is a TV monitor with real-time images from inside the tube on the platform  clues to the source of the sounds you are hearing.  His feet are a cement “Cube” loudspeaker, playing back harmonically tuned version of whats going on outside real-time.Overhead a surveillance camera sends an overview of the current situation over ISDN lines to the Festival.

At the Ars Electronica Festival

A remote sensing station stands a setup similar in nature to Max’s over at the Station.  Three sets of headphones are available for listening through Mas’s binaural ears.  There is a computer linked to the computer filters at the train station.  Select a filter change and you are shifting the harmonic balance of a public space cross town and hearing the shift in that space instantly on your phones in binaural stereo. You are also seeing the response if any on the surveillance video.  There is a train schedule posted on the wall announcing such arrivals as 6:23 “The Rosenkavalier” .  A clock on the wall keeps you in time with the rhythm tracks.  None of this careful planning could have predicted that the kids at the station would learn to use Max’s binaural ears to control the festival guests in the Brucknerhaus.