House of Music, Budapest, HU
South Bend, Indiana, US
A sculptural series of interactive, slowly rocking benches compose gentle music and encourage synced up choreographies. Conceived to create a ritual around a moment of pause in the urban realm, the artwork stimulates a communal experience in a soothing soundscape.
A first set of Daydreamer was installed in the city of South Bend (US) as part of revitalization efforts to reconnect citizens to their riverfront. The artwork creates a new space for social connection, a suspended collective moment to take in the natural landscape.
Daydreamer reinvents the public bench by encouraging slow, rocking, synchronous motions to bring a therapeutic quality to public space. Rocking is known to induce a state of daydreaming, reducing stress and anxiety, while synchronous activity, according to different studies, strengthens social attachment and empathy among a group well beyond the moment of coming together.
A set of revolving long benches host a sound and sensing system. Each bench accommodates up to four people, finished in Canadian white oak, with a powder-coated aluminum arch. Interactive LED lights are integrated in the arch and under the seat to emphasize movement.
When people sit and push the benches to rock or spin, music and light animations are triggered through motion detection, merging analog and digital movements. The benches rock in four quarters, or rotate 360˚ with a bit more push from the user. People may sit on the bench or hold the arch from a standing position, or from a wheelchair, to make music. No matter how people play, the mechanism inside the benches’ pivot center ensures the motion is slow.
All the sounds of Daydreamer are recordings of the human voice. The notes that are sung depend on the benches’ position and direction of travel. Volume is dictated by the speed of movement. By mapping multiple musical parameters to different physical states, a strong gestural link is created between body movement and music. Each bench occupies a slightly different musical register; soprano, alto and tenor. Voices sing more complex partitions when benches are moved in synchronicity to encourage collaboration between players. The ensemble is an evolutive tapestry of tension, release, motion and stillness.
The artwork aims to create inclusive and diverse social spaces. Very slow bench rotations makes for safe playing for elders and children alike. The bench can be turned by holding the arch, easing the music making exercise for those on wheelchairs. A resulting soft spectacle mixing sound, movement and light offers sensory diversity in a soothing manner. Daydreamer stimulates a wide range of informal connections by inviting a very wide audience to make play, explore and connect, through joy.
— Wallpaper Magazine