What do you feel when you hear the National Anthem? Pride? Embarrassment? Resentment? Indifference? It occupies a peculiar place in our cultural psyche; from the Proms to the Terraces it means different things to each of us.
With Great Britain hosting the 2012 London Olympics, we’re set to hear God Save the Queen more than usual, and why not? It’ll be used in positive ways to recognise the successful athletes and as a calling card for Britain. The anthem is a loaded symbol, however, with negative associations that are both well known and trodden. For some, it is a reminder of colonialism, nationalism or a monarchy that has no place in modern Britain.
These contradictions are the starting point of the Sweet Spot; an interactive audio-visual installation that takes a wry look at the National Anthem by reinterpreting it through sound and audience participation/collaboration.
Infrared cameras are used to capture the coordinates and movements of the people in the gallery. This data is then used to control and manipulate an alternative recording of the British National anthem revealing specific codas and processing the audio output according to the audiences’ position.
The installation provides the participants with the necessary feedback (aurally and visually) to understand that their position within the space alters the output of the audio. If all of the participants congregate on the sweet spot – an unmarked point within the room – they will hear the true recording of the anthem. If, however, one or more of the participants move away from this area the music will change. Will the participants choose to collaborate and locate the Sweet Spot, or will they instead choose to explore the space and create something new?