Caterwaul

The proliferation of networked on-line worlds has provided a small quota of the human race the option to seek refuge in utopian, less troubled imaginary lands. Rolling synthetic green pastures offer us respite from a planet undergoing exploitation and climate change. For those of us too firmly rooted in this material world to join them, how shall we communicate with them? In what way shall we lament their departure?

The essence of this piece is a large monolithic dark wall that is represented both in the real and virtual worlds. It is a one-way portal to the virtual world through which people can whisper their thoughts, scream their frustrations and convey regret without the privilege of reply. It is a wailing wall through which to mourn the loss of our humanity to the virtual network.

CATERWAUL is an interactive sound installation that operates as a one way “portal” to Second Life via the Internet. A physical wall in operates as a totemic locus of grief. People approach it with intent to wail and mourn. The mourners grieve their lost loved ones who spend more time in virtual and on-line worlds than they do communicating in real life. The cacophony of the lamentation is recorded by hidden microphones in the wall, transmitted across the Internet and piped out of an “identical” wall in the virtual world Second Life (http://secondlife.com). A website displaying a simulation of the wall allows other people, on the threshold of “real” and “second” life, to vicariously eavesdrop the wailing.

Project webpage: http://www.digitalstar.net/projects/caterwaul/