ProjectMUTATIONSLocationHelsinki, FinlandManufacturersGenelecInstallerFrame RateAcousticianEli StineSubmitted byGenelec

MUTATIONS, or MUT-ATI-ØNS, is a highly immersive, mobile audio-visual installation developed by Finland-based creatives, Frame Rate. The installation is a transformative experience that allows each visitor to effortlessly co-author music by simply moving their body – transcending traditional forms of music making. This empowers participants to focus entirely on their creativity within the installation’s dynamic environment.

The attraction – which can be booked for events anywhere in the world – utilises a series of sensors to react to body movement, enabling visitors to co-create music by triggering sound samples and lighting effects as they navigate the interactive space. When they are done, their new musical creation is available to instantly download via a QR code so they can revisit their sonic artwork at any time. The attraction is completely modular and modifiable to different spaces, from large-scale art installations to smaller projects, including company events and pop-up festivals.

Producer Jukka Karhula worked alongside Composer and Programmer Eli Stine and Creative Director Mika Johnson on the installation, which relies on the crystal-clear playback of 16 Genelec 4020 installation loudspeakers and 7050 subwoofers. Lighting and video elements are provided by ultrasonic sensors and dynamic LEDs from ROE Visual.

Genelec is a Finnish brand, and MUTATIONS is a Finnish project, so with the team already familiar with Genelec audio solutions – known globally for intelligibility, even coverage and 24/7 reliability – deploying 4000 Series loudspeakers and 7000 Series subwoofers was a natural choice for effectively immersing visitors. Additionally, with Genelec’s strong values surrounding inclusive access to the arts, there was a perfect level of synergy with MUTATIONS.

The loudspeakers are placed at various locations throughout the attraction allowing MUTATIONS to amplify immersion and engulf participants. The multi-channel element of the 4000 Series was a huge draw for the project team, as well as durability and audio quality so that each participant feels like they’re creating music without any technological barriers.

The output of the sound generation process is a 16.1 channel, real-time generated immersive audio experience, unique to each participant. This is sent out of Max programming language on a computer to a MOTU 16a 32×32 I/O audio interface, which is connected to the multi-channel Genelec speaker system. Max is a visual programming language for music that allows the user to create their own interactive software. Max has objects that generate sound waves, represent hardware, or provide a UI for interaction.

While the participant is in control of the sound and lighting, a stereo mixdown (listenable on two speakers or headphones) is made of the music that they are creating. The computer is running a Node server which hosts the last-recorded music mixdown audio file, and a link embedded within a QR code allows the participant to download and keep the music that they just created.

MUTATIONS uses a selection of products from ROE Visual, including the linear ROE Strip LED, which is ideal for creative applications that push the boundaries of technology. The multiple cover options and variable lengths allow the product to bend to the structure of MUTATIONS, and the LEDs are also freely mappable, meaning that video content can be deployed throughout the installation.

MUTATIONS also uses a Brompton Tessera T1 Processor – an excellent solution for small-scale creative shows that don’t require a huge number of pixels. It offers maximum flexibility and brightness and can be scaled, clipped and colour adjusted to perfectly map the content to the fixtures.

The sensor rig used consists of 6 HC-SR04 ultrasonic sensors that detect movement at a range of 2cm – 400cm with up to 3mm accuracy. The sensors are connected to a microcontroller and passed over a serial bus to a computer that runs the Max programming language.

This code then runs a custom sensor fusion routine on the sensors in real-time, providing information about how much movement the participant is making, as well as any quick or significant movements and where the participant is within the installation. This information is sent locally for sound generation, and over the network via the OpenSoundControl (OSC) protocol to Touch Designer to control the lighting system. This means that both sound and visuals are tightly synchronised by using the same sensor fusion data derived from the participant’s movement.

A custom Touch Designer patch was created to take in real-time sensor fusion data – along with the participant’s chosen sound world (Synths, Drums, or Voice) – and generate a real-time video canvas that is distributed over an Ethernet hub to the set of ROE strip LEDs. Different colour palettes are associated with each sound world (pink, blue, green), and where the participant is in the tunnel, how they are moving, and triggers based on quick and/or significant movements are all used to create a dynamic and evolving light show that is tightly synchronised with the generated sound.

MUTATIONS is modular which means that it can be scaled up or down depending on the client and budget. This is the main challenge with mobile installation, as it needs to be completely flexible to meet the demands of those who are using it. The use of state-of-the-art audio and lighting technology ensures that the attraction can seamlessly bend to any brief, and the project’s creative team is constantly working to develop the concept further. It facilitates fluid creativity for people who have never composed music before, and the use of high-quality audio allows the participant to freely create without a barrier of sound quality between the music and themselves.

MUTATIONS is a completely unique attraction that offers a transformative experience through dynamic audio-visual technology.
It’s an interactive installation that inspires and empowers the visitor’s creativity.
The project relies on Finnish innovation, with both the creative concept and technology delivered by Finland-based brands.
MUTATIONS is a mobile and scalable installation that can adapt to numerous briefs, from large-scale contemporary art exhibitions to smaller shows and customisable events.


Image credit to Jussi Eskola