Primal Source

Specially commissioned by the City of Santa Monica, California, for Glow 08, Primal Source was an all-night performance/installation brought to life through the active participation of festival-goers (estimated at approx. 200,000 over the course of the night).

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Located on the beach near the Pier in an area that had been specifically landscaped over the course of several days, and making use of a large-scale outdoor waterscreen/mist projection system, the mirage-like installation glowed with colours and ebullient patterns created in response to the competing and collaborative voices, music and screams of people nearby.

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Responding to sounds emanating from the crowd, the system's modes changed every few minutes depending on how active the crowd participation was (more quickly when there was more noise). Each mode responded in a slightly different way to the individual voices and sounds picked up by 8 microphones distributed towards the front.

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Some modes created "creatures" whose colour, shape and movement followed the frequency and amplitude dynamics of individual syllables and sentences picked up; other modes responded to wider collective phenomena, e.g. distorting a grid in response to the crowd volume, or creating a rush of wind through a wheat-field landscape.


Primal Source video documentation. (Primal Source video also available here).

Built with Processing and Pure Data.


We would like to thank our project partners for their amazing support:

- Mark Flaisher, Producer/superhero

- Jessica Cusick, Cultural Affairs Manager, City of Santa Monica

- Marc Pally, Artistic Director, Glow

- Ben Ritt and Scott Ritt, Mirage Water Works, developers of the water/mist screen system

- Randy Little, Paul Davis, Mark Zurich, Jose Oronoz, Gary Wrenn and Ruben Haro, from The Public Landscape Division of The City of Santa Monica, who worked tirelessly to sculpt the beach landscape (and restore it afterwards!)

- Susan Lowell, Stuart Jose, Felipe Sanchez, Cedric Burris, Gary Welling and Gil Borboa from the Water Resources Division of The City of Santa Monica who integrated the all-important water supply

- Val Guzman, Bobby Vasquez, Frank Redondo, Ross Vasquez and Luis Hernandez, from Santa Monica's Wastewater group who ensured that the water was properly recycled after the event

- Project site crew, Asher Nelson and Jason Bernstein, for doing everything that nobody else wanted to do

- David Stouse, Kinetic Lighting Inc., projectionist

- Barco for providing the FLM HD18 18,000 lumen projector

- Brian Krinek, for the
computer that ran the show

- Katie Bergin, Aaron Paley, Allison Adalian and Gigi Davis of Cars LA for organising event stewardship and security

- Hannah Montana's crew, for helping move some vital equipment...

And a special thanks for additional funding from the Black Rock Arts Foundation!


November 2013: Please note that Haque Design + Research is now Umbrellium, where more up-to-date information can be found Umbrellium