In a paradoxical manner, Stellar Dynamic is trying to create a communal and playful space while using the militaristic language of gripping rhythms, gleaming metal and powerful motions.

On the floor in the middle of the dim gallery space is a large round projection. A battery of long aluminium rods is arching from all four walls towards the middle of the space. Each is terminating in a wooden drum stick. At a height of seven feet these long drum sticks seem to create an impermanent tent-like structure. Every drum stick is twelve feet long and attached to a motor which is suspending it from the wall in a slight upward angle. Attached to the wall just below each drum stick is a push button. Once pushed, the corresponding motor starts turning and the drum stick will tap the floor. The floor becomes the drum.

Projected onto the floor are twelve concentric circles. The graphic is a mix between a radar and a solar system. If visitors to the gallery push a button a white fleck appears on the corresponding circle and starts circling around the center. If visitors continue to interact with the installation in this manner more white flecks appear. Each fleck is an indicator and a memory of each participant's interaction and will trigger an automatic drum hit every time it finishes a full revolution.

Over time the constellation of white flecks and the resulting drumming sequence will become more complex if more people participate and add to it. But I hope to encourage collaborations between different participants; not just uninvolved button pushing.

When multiple people coordinate their drum hits to create richer drumming sequences, the resulting fleck patterns start to look like a cluster. Once the cluster is dense enough, all flecks slowly condense to one single point. The cluster bursts into fireworks of many little sparkling particles and the drum sticks automatically perform a choreographed set from a wide repertoire. Ten seconds later everything turns back to normal and all the flecks are gone.

Here we are at the pinnacle of the paradox. While the light and drum show tries to create a celebratory environment participants will be surprised maybe even shocked by the sudden burst of energy. This is a celebration created by a machine, it is powerful and very physical.

I hope that once participants have experienced this event and understood the system behind those actions they will become implicated in the power of the drumming machine. Now knowing what can happen and what effect the machine might have on newcomers, participants might take an active role in manipulating the underlying structure of the machine. At this moment, it should be apparent that everyone is responsible for their actions.

Some may feel the physicality of the machine as an intrusion on their bodies, other may experience it as an extension to their body. Those drum sticks already look like twelve very long fingers which allow for an extended reach, out into the middle of the room.

With Stellar Dynamic I am creating a playful environment where we can actively experiment and investigate our personal and collective relationship to technology and power.

Stellar Dynamic & Drumline Stephan Schulz, 2007

With help from Lucas Dambergs and Cody Lee Stephenson.

technical details:

The push buttons are connected to a Wiring i/o board, which is programmed with Processing. Once a button is pushed the Wiring board sends the signal a Computer via serial communication. The Computer is running a Processing script that creates the concentric circle-projection. In turn the script adds the new information to the projection and tells the Wiring board to release a motor. For more information on the motors go to my howto page.

I noticed that it would be best to run the motors of 12V batteries, since the power supplies shut down when there is too much drain on them. I had to adjust the length and thickness of the cables to create the right resistance/ voltage dropage for the motors those they get enough power for the job but also not damage the power supplies.