An exercise in cooperation
Dancing with your shadow
In the warmest areas of the world, the sun sets the pace of life. When cities become unliveable because of their scalding concrete, creating shaded areas in public spaces becomes a priority. The Pearl Divers plays with this tension to show that another type of urban life is possible, whatever the climate.
Designed to be in direct relationship with the sun, this installation is an interactive pavement that plays music with light. Passers-by are invited to explore how their shadows trigger musical notes, and how they can express themselves with their whole body in public space.
Dubai, United Arab Emirates, since 2019
In 2019, The Pearl Divers was installed in Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. For centuries in the area, people used to dive into the sea looking for pearls, known as the “local gold”. This piece pays tribute to this forgotten tradition with traditional bayati and hijaz melodies, and a blue pavement dotted with pearls sensing the sun.
Pearls are raindrops filled with moonlight that have fallen into the sea and were swallowed by oysters
The movement of the sun throughout the day changes the nature of it’s light. Its shadows stretch and transform, change orientation and intensity. The Pearl Divers detects these solar variations: shadows cast on the interactive pavement trigger voices and instruments that evolve depending on the light.
Dawn or dusk, the same combinations of melody and instrument may never be heard twice. Its many musical possibilities provide a sense of surprise and exploration for both everyday participants and one-time visitors. People are free to choose how they want to engage, simply walking through the pavement or dancing with their entire bodies; alone or together.
The Pearl Divers brings a new sound dimension to the city. Because the project is embedded into the architecture, it stimulates the emergence of new gathering habits, and opportunities for people to move together in public spaces. By inviting them to explore the project with their entire body, inhibitions are lost and performance takes over.