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What’s in store for Science in the City?

We cherry picked three of the events among the rich selection of activities being set up for Science in the City, and we asked their creators and organisers: what can we expect, and how will it all come together?

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic
22 September 2012, 12:00am
Artist's impression of Silence in Strait Street’ – an audiovisual experience by Chris Briffa Architects.
Artist's impression of Silence in Strait Street’ – an audiovisual experience by Chris Briffa Architects.
The upcoming Science in the City festival will bring together the traditionally disparate disciplines of art and science, in an attempt to show that research, artistic inspiration and technical innovation can create dazzling works of public spectacle.

But what exactly can we expect come September 28, when an assortment of scientists and artists will take over Valletta?

We cherry picked three of the events among the rich selection of activities being set up for Science in the City, and we asked their creators and organisers: what can we expect, and how will it all come together?

Cortex by Raphael Vella 

Cortex_RaphaelVella


Artist's impression of Cortex


What is it?

Artist Raphael Vella: "A medium-sized installation made of acetate sheets and hanging from the ceiling in the arcade of the National Library in Valletta. The sculpture looks vaguely like a human brain but is composed of twelve slices of different 'animal brains' - the porpoise, the goat, the horse, the polar bear, the zebra, the human being and others.  So, in a sense, different brains come together to make a single brain."

How will it work?

Vella: "First of all, the work involved some research into different forms and sizes of brains - I was given some assistance here by Dr Mario Valention from the University of Malta. But the real trick is to make the sculpture work in all ways: conceptually, aesthetically and also scientifically, if this is possible.  Each slice was transformed into a vector graphic, then cut out of acetate sheets using CNC tools, with the assistance of a local company that specialises in plastics. It's actually quite a simple construction, but there are various physical constraints that affect its position, especially when it hangs."

L'Ultima Regola del Gioco by Corrado Pasquotti (composer), Federica Lotti (flutist), Alvise Vidolin (live electronics)

Science in the City Lotti


Flutist Federica Lotti

What is it?

A contemporary music performance featuring real-time interaction between solo flute and electronic music at Palazzo Ferreria, Republic Street at 20:00, 21:00 and 22:30, as performed by musicians from the Music Conservatory of Venice in Italy.

How will it work?

Co-organiser Ruben Zahra: "The public is surrounded by 8 speakers creating a 360 acoustic experience. As the flutist performs the music, fragments from the performance are captured, processed and assigned to a particular speaker for playback. The processing of the data involves the transposition of the notes creating a counterpoint of melodic lines as the piece unfolds. We usually experience a concert recital from a stage as a frontal or stereo sound image. In this project, 'space' becomes a creative parameter. The composer plots sound across eight speakers arranged in a circular fashion so that the audience can experience the movement of sound. Another interesting characteristic of this piece is that every performance is unique. The structure of the piece changes every performance as the microphone captures different sections that are consecutively triggered at different time intervals.

Silence in Strait Street by Chris Briffa

Science in the City Silence


What is it?

Created by Chris Briffa Architects in collaboration with Spooky Monkey, Econetique and Halmann Vella Ltd, a temporary 'echo free chamber' will be situated on the cross roads between Strait Street and South Street in Valletta. Partly inspired by memories of sounds from the old red light district, and partly by Haroon Mirza's anechoic chamber, the 'Silence in Strait Street' project attempts to discover a brief experience which happens around audible sounds and intimate space. 

Chris Briffa: "Our architectural work has taken us to Strait Street in the past, so we have developed an affinity with both its history and its urban realities."

How will it work?

Briffa: "Sound is greatly affected by the surfaces it interacts with. The acoustical properties of an enclosed space are determined by the materials and shapes of its surfaces: which absorb, reflect or diffuse the sound waves within it.

"The chamber uses a combination of grooved, toothed and flat surfaces similar to a saw's edge, to diffuse the sound waves around a subject. The harshness of the surface material will enhance certain frequencies that work, in turn, with the actual sound effect. The flatter surfaces, made of medium-density foams, will absorb and reduce sound reflections in specific locations of the chamber. So the resulting acoustical properties of the internal space, combined with the varying level of the audio material [by Spooky Monkey], will be playing with the whole perspective of hearing; both enhancing and decreasing the sound experience accordingly."

For more information about Science in the City and a full programme of events, log on to: http://scienceinthecity.org.mt/ or find its page on Facebook.

 

teodor_reljic
Teodor Reljic is MaltaToday's culture editor and film critic. He joined t...
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