Voices was a fragmented narrative written by Katherine Mitchell, part of the Future Cemetery project. I served as a Creative Technologist, helping to bring the stories to life.
First version: I put together some modules consisting of Arduino, Wave shield (audio player), motion sensor (Maxbotix EZ1 ultrasonic rangefinder), and a nice portable but beefy speaker, the Jawbone Jambox. Everything was battery-powered or rechargeable, and encased in weatherproof housings. They were then attached to various trees in the forest at Arnos Vale cemetery, on a very showery 30 June 2012.
Second version: Battery life on the Arduino/Waveshield combo was limited to about 3 hours (with standard 9V). Plus we decided not to use motion sensors, reasoning that instead of sound being triggered by proximity (of person, animal wind-blown branch etc), playing the voices continuously (with 10 second silence between each sequence) might actually attract people over. And if they then stood still to listen, the audio would still continue to play.
So, I got these simple and inexpensive MP3 players, which I had used successfully in my research, knowing they have a very long battery life (my test clocked them at 35 hours) with a single AAA. The Jamboxes I got at least 24 hours of use out of, on a single charge. The MP3 players also have better sound quality than the Wave Shield, which is limited to 8kHz WAV files. And they’re pretty sturdy, easy to load and use.
There was a second performance of Voices on 8 Sept 2012.
[Main photo by Dirk Dahmer]