Western time is an interactive installation for single participant. It is a journey into sound that wants the idea of expectations in music listening to be a metaphor of our living experience.
Theory of expectations in music is addressed by Meyer in his seminal book Emotion and Meaning in Music [Meyer, 1957] and continued and expanded by contemporary researchers in music psychology such as David Huron [Huron, 2006]. According to Meyer, musical stimuli suggest in the listener an expectation of another musical event and the embodied meaning rely on this inference. Connotation is the characteristic of the musical language, where a set of properties suggests the inferences needed to point to another musical experience. Thus, expectations are the core to explain both emotion and meaning in music and they are the psychological process which unify the emotional and intellectual musical experience.
The interaction affordable within the installation allows the participant to move through three streams of sound. Moving back or forth correspond to play different section of the audio in a seamless and fully controllable fashion.
Compared to a conventional music playback, in which the listener organizes the sound material in pattern, repetitions and structures, and build inferences of the event which will follow, the bodily interaction produces here the structure, the timing of the event and eventual repetitions. In turns, expectations are created and orchestrated by the participant in manners compliant to his/her own aesthetic.
The idea that the user can direct this sound evolution, these narratives arches of expectations and fulfilment, metaphorically points to a wider life experience: restructuring the timeline, the sequence of events by which, one attributes meaning to experiences. It challenges a narrative, linear conception of the life time and tries to re-establish a contact with the time continuum, the moment and the chance.
The monitor at the end of the room shows an excerpt from the movie Five by Kiarostami [Kiarostami, 2003]. The participant has to face the striking beauty of the images and sounds collected by the director, strongly opposed to an artificial life journey where expectations can be often culturally driven and meaning arise from social constraints.