Watchers is an interactive sound installation that serves as an example how a generative system can be made experienceable by exposing its algorithmic properties through the installation’s perceivable characteristics. The generative system is based on a simulation of densely interconnected recurrent networks that exhibit time-delay and feedback mechanisms. Through a combination of natural mapping strategies and spatial metaphors, several of the network’s properties are aligned with the sonic output of the installation and become accessible for interaction through tangible affordances.
Each of the six loudspeakers in the installation is associated with a corresponding node within the network whose changing activity level is directly emitted as acoustic output by the loudspeaker. In addition, the installation establishes a relationship between the physical loudspeaker setup and the network topology that is based on spatial metaphors. For this, each loudspeaker is endowed with the capability to recognise the presence of other loudspeakers as long as they are located more or less along the loudspeaker’s line of sight. This visibility principle is related to the connectivity among network nodes. For loudspeakers that can see other loudspeakers, a connection is established among the corresponding network nodes. And conversely, network nodes that correspond to loudspeakers that can’t see each other are not connected.