Artist Pearla Pigao’s Interactive Artwork Completed at Vuosaari Higher Secondary School

Music and technology oriented Vuosaari Upper Secondary School in Helsinki has unveiled a new public art piece that lets you play music with your body movements. Artist Pearl PigaoDiscoterium’s interactive installation spans the airspace of the building’s stairwell.

Discoterium consists of eight hand-woven circular textiles. The patterns of the textiles are based on audio files which have been translated into visual form of weaving instructions using the logic of graphics software. Together, the weavings form a visual translation of the first eight notes of the chromatic scale. Four of these textiles serve as instruments.

Pearla Pigao has a background in music and textile art. She explores the relationship between sound and matter by creating links between musical composition and weaving. Pigao weaves conductive metal strands into textiles and combines these weaves with a synthesizer and analog oscillators that produce sine waves. When the viewer is close to the work, an electric field exists between the viewer and the textile. This field changes with proximity. Thus, the artist transforms the weaves into sound instruments whose frequency rises and falls according to the proximity of the movements of the performer’s body to the work. The number of players also influences the resulting music.

According to the artist, the chaotic composition and circular shapes of the installation were inspired by the planetary system. These counterbalance the angles and straight lines of the building. The colors of the work, for their part, harmonize with the architecture.

Pearla Pigao (b. 1984) is an artist, musician and craftswoman who lives and works in Oslo. Pigao has received numerous accolades and awards for his interactive installations. Pigao has organized many exhibitions in his country and abroad. One of Pigao’s works was previously exhibited in Finland in Helsinki Contemporary’s joint exhibition Future Delay in 2019.

For the sound engineering of the Discoterium, Pigao collaborated with an electronics developer Henrik Waarum (born in 1988).

Vuosaari Upper Secondary School was designed by Verstas Architects. The City of Helsinki adheres to the percentage for art principle, which means that approximately 1% of the city’s construction and renovation expenditure is devoted to the creation of new public art. In recent years, major construction efforts have resulted in the commissioning of artwork for many public buildings in Kalasatama, Konala, Lauttasaari and Jakomäki, among other areas of Helsinki. The HAM Helsinki Art Museum serves as the artistic expert in these projects, and the works are added to the Helsinki City Art Collection managed by HAM.

Source: City of Helsinki, Department of Culture and Leisure

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