Overexposure / Surexposition v.2

An interactive public installation with smartphones, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, February 2016

Surexposition/Overexposure (v.2) is an interactive work bringing together a public installation and a smart phone application. On an urban square, a large black monolith projects an intense beam of white light into the sky. Visible all over the city, the beam turns off and on, pulsating in way that communicates rigor, a will to communicate, even if we don’t immediately understand the signals it is producing. On one side of the monolith, white dots and dashes scroll past, from the bottom up, marking the installation with their rhythm: each time one reaches the top of the monolith, the light goes off, as if the marks were emptying into the light. On a completely different scale, we see the same marks scrolling across the smartphone screens of the people in attendance, interacting with the work, following the same rhythm. Here, it is the flash of the smartphones that releases light in accordance with the coded language. Returning to the very essence of Morse, the messages are then transformed into a sound composition, broadcast by the installation, as well as by the public’s smartphones. Because these are in fact messages that are being sent—in Morse code, from everyone, to everyone and to the sky—and that we can read thanks to the super-titling that accompanies the marks. Using a smartphone, anyone can send a message, saying what they think and therefore presenting themselves, for a few moments, to everyone, to a community sharing the same time, the same rhythm. And we can take the pulse of an even larger community—on the scale of the city and in real time—through a map of mobile phone network use, projected onto the ground or visualized via smartphone.

From an individual device (smartphone) the size of a hand to a shared format on the scale of the city, a momentary community forms and transforms, sharing a space, a pace, the same data, following a type of communication whose ability to bring together through a sensory experience is more important than the meaning of the messages it transmits or their destination, which is lost in the sky.

(Photos: Samuel Bianchini)

An Orange/EnsadLab (the laboratory of the École Nnationale supérieure Supérieure des Arts Décoratifs, PSL Research University) project under the direction of Samuel Bianchini

in collaboration with Dominique Cunin (EnsadLab), Catherine Ramus (Orange Labs) and Marc Brice (Orange Labs), in the framework of a research partnership with Orange Labs, and Roland Cahen (sound design).

“Orange/EnsadLab” partnership directors: Armelle Pasco, Director of Cultural and Institutional Partnerships, Orange and Emmanuel Mahé, Head of Research, EnsAD

Project Manager (Orange): Abla Benmiloud-Faucher
IT Development (EnsadLab): Dominique Cunin, Oussama Mubarak, Jonathan Tanant
Graphic Design: Alexandre Dechosal (EnsadLab)
Sound Design: Roland Cahen
Sound engine development: Norbert Schnell (Ircam)
Voice samples recorded by choristers from Jazzalam
Lighting, Video Mapping and construction of the installation structure: idscènes
Mobile network data supply: Orange Flux Vision
Mobile network data processing: Cezary Ziemlicki (Orange)
SMS Server Development: Orange Applications for Business
Technical Assistant: Alexandre Saunier (EnsadLab)
Production Assistant: Élodie Tincq

Production: Orange
Executive Production: EnsadLab

The research and development for this work were carried out in association with the research project Cosima (“Collaborative Situated Media”), coordinated by Ircam and sponsored by the Agence nationale de la recherche (ANR) and participate in the development of Mobilizing.js (http://www.mobilizing-js.net), a programming environment for mobile screens, conceived by EnsadLab, aimed at artists and designers.
This version of Surexposition benefits from a partnership with idscènes and Ircam under the aegis of the Cosima project.

Collective Loops @ Forum Workshops

A second version of the Collective Loops installation has been shown during the Ircam Forum Workshops on November 25 and 26, 2015.

The installation features a collaborative version of a step sequencer that uses the visitor’s smartphones to produce sound. The sequencer is graphically represented by a circle of 8 sectors projected on the floor. The sectors light up in a clockwise motion following the beats of the sequence.

When the players connect to the installation through a web page, they choose an available sector, and thus, their step in the loop. The players can control the sounds (i.e. notes in a melody or bass line and percussion sounds) that are played on their smartphone at the corresponding beat of the sequence through a simple graphical interface on their smartphones. The selected sounds are also displayed in the corresponding sector of the circle on the floor.

Positioned around the circle, the players collaborate on creating melodies and rhythm patterns rendered through their smartphones.

The application uses a first complete version of the CoSiMa platform entirely based on web standards.

Design and development :
Ircam: Norbert Schnell, Jean-Philippe Lambert, Benjamin Matuszewski, Sebastien Robaszkiewicz
Orbe: Xavier Boissarie, Florent Dubois, Gregory Cieslik, Tomek Jarolim, Quentin Levigneron
EnsadLab: Samuel Bianchini, Dominique Cunin, Oussama Mubarak, Jonathan Tanant
ID Scènes: Christophe Aubry, Fabrice Auchere
NoDesign: Jean-Louis Frechin, Uroš Petrevski
ESBA TALM: Christophe Domino

Terminal @ Paris Musique Club

Terminal is an interactive installation that has been created in collaboration with Chloé and the Scale collective for the Paris Musique Club. The installation will be shown from October 24, 2015 to January 31, 2016 at the Gaité Lyrique.

The project transposes the musical elements and mobile interactions of the Chloé ⨉ Ircam concert into the situation of an exhibition.
The installation features a looped 15-minutes 4-channel music track staged in a 7-meters corridor with 21 smartphones aligned along the wall and luminous lines running on the floor.

Similar as in the concert, visitors can connect to the installation with their mobile devices to participate. At given passages of the music track, the participants are invited to play sound with touch and motion interfaces that appear on their mobile device. The graphical animations and sound of their device are echoed by one of the smartphones on the wall.


Every now and then, waves of sound textures appear on the participants’ mobile devices. In addition, visitors can use a wall-mounted tablet to distribute sound textures over the smartphones on the wall. The light on the floor reacts on the music as well as the visitors’ interactions with the tablet.

Murmures Urbains @ Chalon dans la rue 2015

CoSiMa has participated with Murmures Urbains at 2015 edition of the festival Chalon dans la rue from June 24 to 26.

The Orbe collective has presented three experimental scenarios of augmented soundwalks. The participants equipped with a smartphone are invited to experience an augmented audio reality that reacts on their position, trajectory and movement (using GPS, BTLE beacons and motion sensors). Each scenario proposes a different narrative and leads the participants on different possible trajectories through the same district of Chalon-sur-Saône. The trajectories take between 30 minutes and 2 hours depending on the participants’ preference and their engagement with the proposed activities.

The trajectories of all participants have been recorded and visualized on a screen at the arrival point where the team invited the participants to a debriefing of their experience.

Chloé × Ircam @ Fête de la musique 2015

The French Ministère de la culture et de la communication asked IRCAM to imagine a participative concert for the Fête de la musique ’15, whose theme was « Vivre ensemble la musique » (“To live music together”). We partnered with Chloé in order to design the interactive live experience Chloé × Ircam. During that experience, Chloé alternates between moments when she plays alone — partially distributing sound on the audience’s smartphones —, and moments when she leaves room for the audience to play with her using their smartphones, thus enabling a musical dialog between her and the audience.

The concert took place on June 21st at the Jardin du Palais-Royal in Paris. At the beginning of the concert, participants are invited to join a WiFi network and connect to a URL (chloe.ircam.fr). After they indicate their positions in the venue thanks to a simple interface, the experience can begin. In addition to her usual live electronics setup, Chloé has four tablets where each participant shows up as a circle at the indicated position. Touching these circles she can play different sound textures on the participants’ smartphones. When moving her fingers over the touch screens the sound textures move over the space of the audience. On an additional tablet, Chloé can enable four different interfaces (i.e. simple instruments) on the participants’ devices that they can play by touching the screen and shaking the device.

The preparation of this project took three months, during which we made two live tests, one at IRCAM in the beginning of May with around 30 colleagues and friends, and one at the Centre Pompidou on June 9 with over 150 participants.

Open House @ IRCAM

During IRCAM’s open house on June 6th, CoSiMa presented two different projects, Collective Loops and Woodland.

Collective Loops

Collective Loops is a collaborative version of an 8-step loop sequencer. When visitors access the webpage of the installation with their smartphone, they are automatically assigned to an available step in the sequence loop, and their smartphone plays a sound when it is their turn. The participants control the pitch of the sound through the inclination of their smartphones. The participants are invited to collaboratively create a melody of 8 pitches that circulates in a steady tempo over their smartphones.

A circular visualization of the sequencer is projected on the floor. The projection consists of a circle divided in 8 sections that light up in counterclockwise circular movement synchronized with the sounds emitted by the smartphones. Each section of the projection is further divided into 12 radial segments that display the pitch of the corresponding sequence step (i.e. controlled through the inclination of the participants smartphone).

The 8 first participants who connect to the sequencer have a celesta sound, the 8 following can play with a drum kit, the 8 last have a bass sound. All together, 24 players can create complex rhythmic and melodic patterns.


Woodland is a very early stage prototype that aims at explaining how natural audio effects (such as reverb) are created in the natural environment. For this, we create a setting where each participant is a tree in a forest. At some point, a designated player “throws a sound” in the forest by swinging his / her smartphone upwards. After a few seconds of calculations, the sound falls on one tree; then we hear the first wave of resonances when the sound reaches the other trees; and so on recursively until the sound ultimately vanishes.

In order to make people understand what is going on, we can control several parameters of the simulation such as the speed of sound in the air, the absorbance of the air, the type of sound (with a hard or soft attack), etc. That way, if we set the parameters to be similar to the natural setting, we hear the same reverb as we would hear in a forest. But if for example we slow down the speed of sound, we can hear a very slow version of how this natural reverb is built, hearing each echo one by one.

This very first prototype was very promising, and further developments might include a visualization on the floor of the different sounds that bounce from trees to trees to create that reverb effect.

Web Audio Now! @ Best of Web 2015

When Cyril Balit participated to the CoSiMa demonstration at Paris Face Cachée, he asked us if we would be willing to present our work to the Best of Web 2015 conference in Paris, which is a compilation of the best talks of 8 Parisian web meet-ups.

So there we went! Together with the WAVE project — the IRCAM Web Audio library on which most of the things we do is based on, see also wavesjs on GitHub) —, we presented our ongoing research and projects. In particular, we took advantage of this event to test a new collaborative experience that would premiere at Fête de la musique (see Chloé × Ircam). With more that 130 connections, it confirmed that we were on the right track for the show! We also got a lot of positive feedback from the JS community on the technologies we are developing.

The slides of the presentation are available here.

Rone : Créatures & Cie @ Palais de Tokyo

Rone was invited to unveil the universe he created for his latest album Créatures at the Palais de Tokyo (Le Point Perché). Along with illustrations, photographs, binaural experiences and video games, CoSiMa presented Créatures & Cie – Collective Sound Check, a spontaneous collective performance that enables the audience to play with Rone’s creatures. By simply opening a web page, the visitors of the exhibition can discover a novel way of exploring Rone’s musical universe and fill in the space with his sound creatures.

http://cosima.ircam.fr/creatures-et-cie (from a smartphone)

This performance is a first step towards a new generation of interactive musical experiences that Rone is developing in collaboration with IRCAM.

Rone : Creatures & Cie

Sonosphere @ Confluences

Orbe designed and implemented Sonosphere for the Confluence museum that opened at the end of 2014 in Lyon. Sonosphere is an immersive sound experience deployed indoor and outdoor. The visitor navigates through the voices that inhabit the areas of the museum with a mobile device. Sonosphere at the Confluence museum allows the visitor to explore the sound memory of the museum, to discover spaces behind the scenes, and to access other hidden dimensions.

As part of the CoSiMa project, Sonosphere integrates 3D-sound technologies provided by IRCAM. Visitors are solicited by spatialized voices that seem to come from the art pieces, columns or walls. HRTF filtering enables spatial localization of sound sources. The visitors are continuously geolocated through a Bluetooth LE beacon network that equips the 20,000 m² of the museum, and we use the smartphone inertial sensors to get an idea of the orientation of the visitors within the space. Display free mode allows the visitors to navigate with their ears. This intuitive interface is close to natural listening and thus requires no learning.

With this geolocation and binaural sound processing, Sonosphere adds a sound layer to the museum spaces. The sounds no longer belong to the headphones, but are truly part of the environment.

Expérimentations sonores @ Paris Face Cachée

On February 6th, 7th and 8th, La Ville de Paris and the À Suivre association organized the 4th edition of Paris Face Cachée, which aims at proposing original and off-the-wall ways to discover the city. The CoSiMa team led the workshops Expérimentations sonores held at IRCAM on February 7th.

Three groups of 24 participants could test the latest web applications we developed. The audience first tried a few soundscapes (Birds and Monks) to get familiar with the sound-motion interactions on their smartphones, and to learn how to listen to each other while individually contributing to a collective sonic environment.

In the second part of the workshop, we proposed the participants to take part in the Drops collective smartphone performance. While the soundscapes also work as standalone web applications (i.e. they do not technically require other people to play with), Drops is inherently designed for a group of players, where the technology directly supports the social interaction. The players can play a limited number of sound drops that vary in pitch depending on the touch position. The sound drops are automatically echoed by the smartphones of other players before coming back to the player, creating a fading loop of long echoes until they vanish. The collective performance is accompanied by a synchronized soundscape on ambient loudspeakers.

The performance is strongly inspired by the mobile application Bloom by Brian Eno and and Peter Chilvers.

Below are a few pictures from the event.