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HeadSpin
Media coverage:
nogome scroll down to May 2, 2005

"Immersive" probably best describes the effect of this installation. The visitor is asked to put his/her head into a washing machine and set it spinning. The surprisingly good acoustics of the machine's drum accompanied by its different cycle speeds and visual effects create an unexpected result from a familiar and well-known domestic device.

What audience can expect from HeadSpin:

The HeadSpin is a washing machine. A converted, re-appropriated and repurposed domestic device, designed for atypical acoustic experiences. It combines the traditionally 'masculine' HI-FI obsessiveness with the traditionally 'feminine' domestic stereotype of using a washing machine. With reduced efficiency for either purpose, it nevertheless becomes an alarming audiovisual experience and a surprisingly fulfilling - yet claustrophobic - immersive acoustic environment.

It features 12 voice-activated sonic washing programs including "Biological Stain Removal", "Rinse Cycle", and "Skid Marks". With the custom spin drum speed, a user can choose to change quality and effect in between the whole interaction process. The "REC" recording function is for the user's reviewing purposes only. It provides a means to replay your experiences for you, your family and friends.

The details of the 12 audible programs are:

1. Hard Water Area
Reverberates a dry/wet sound based on the operator's tremulous protestations. The control dial controls the wet/dry level.
2. Colorfast Cottons
Plays your voice back slowly, quickly, and backwards. The control dial modulates the rate of change.
3. Tumble Dry
This is a tumble dryer audio assault, with the control dial changing how overwhelming it becomes.
4. Rinse Psycle
Delayed recording reverberations. Suitable for heads with wooly hats.
5. Pre-Wash Cycle
Time shifted unpredictable stereo panning. The control dial modifies the rate of change.
6. Heavy Soiling
Creates a chorus of your voice, with the control dial modulating the speed. Unsuitable for wooden artifacts.
7. Biological Stain Removal
Eliminates organic and natural elements from the operator's voice. Unsuitable for robots underpants or foul-mouthed speech synthesizers.
8. Delicates (below 40 C)
A gentle shower of directional shifts of the operator's voice. The control dial sets the rate of change.
9. Skid Marks
Stretches and echoes the operator's voice. The control dial dictates the amount of slowdown and echo.
10. Cold Shrinkage
Performs a 'kind of whee uhhh whee at the same time' on the operator's voice. The control dial modulates the amount of 'whee uhhh whee'.
11. Burberry Paranoia
UNSUITABLE FOR DELICATES
12. Blood, Sweat, Gravy and Egg
This engage the Forbidden wash cycle. The operator is not permitted to know what the control dial effects.

General feedback

The biggest challenge with the Headspin was with asking visitors to place their heads inside an (ostensibly) operational washing machine - a testament to the common sense and cultural upbringing we all enjoy. To experience the piece demands transgressing a lifetime of knowledge of the dangers of electricity, water, and claustrophobia. During the initial testing with the public, the Headspin was placed within a typical art exhibition space. The general reaction was of incredulity at the mere presence of the device within this context.

Based on our experiences, a second public viewing was accompanied by a large instructional/motivational poster and encouraging stickers on the device itself, in an attempt to convert voyeurs into participants. In addition, a passive 'attract' mode made the device take on autonomous behaviour, playing from a palette of pre-recorded sounds.

Despite the friendlier face - and our personal assurances - not everyone was willing to experience the Headspin first-hand (or head).

The New and Improved HeadSpin: (Advertisement)

A unique breakthrough from the engineers of Someth;ng; they have developed a new and improved washing-drying experience for all kinds of heads. New features include a voice-activated super-switchbox providing a non-biological experience of new colour-enhancing, brighter white digital textures. The drum's "thousand-holes" sonic architecture ensures 100% absorption of verbal output and provides better-than-doorstep-challenge performance, leaving you with increased freshness that not only sounds good but feels great. All you'd expect from the leading scientists at Someth;ng

The HeadSpin project was commissioned by Cybersonica 05 and has been exhibited at the London Science Museum and The Old Truman Brewery as part of Encompass 05.

The HeadSpin is an interactive Sonic Art project Designed and Manufactured by Someth;ng, 2005.