Of all the pieces that comprise the ‘body’ of a building, the lowly floor tile is that part with which we typically sustain the most intimate physical contact. Brought to blows by gravity, the floor is our unceasing dance partner as we promenade through corridors and patter away in lobbies. Yet we are startlingly unaware of our own constant choreography.

To correct this negligence, I constructed a false floor which renders the footfall as a percussive musical act. MIRROR forges a haptic feedback loop between person and building, refracting and interpolating the sounds of footsteps into an emergent fugue.

This installation performs a chain of audio transformations which allow it to enter a dialogue with each person who steps upon it. Microphones placed at floor level around the perimeter of the room digitize the sounds of nearby footsteps and feed this data to concealed, headless microcomputers. Each zone of the installation has a computer which applies a unique audio transformation, such as a delay or pitch modulation. The altered audio is amplified and finally output to a network of transducers mounted to the underside of the ‘floating’ floor tiles.

Tap dancer Jessica Gersony gave a transfixing performance with the MIRROR, illuminating the possibilities for greater richness in our daily interactions with the surfaces around us.

Special thanks to Aimilios Davlantis Lo for his illustration.


Materials: plywood, paint, microphones, raspberry pi, amplifiers, transducers, wires

Software: sonic-pi, qjackctl, patchage