Anyone who has been to a live performance in the last decade, knows how annoying all of those people holding up their cellphones can be. But instead of attacking the audience Keith Jarrett-style, (warning: link NSFW), a German techno group has decided to make use all of those cellphone waving arms by incorporating their sound and light into the show.
Berlin-based electronic music duo Booka Shade approached a company in London called Makelight, to explore ways that they could incorporate the hundreds of cellphone screens and speakers being waved around by fans at their shows. Makelight has been making apps that harness the visual power of clusters of cellphone screens for some time, but this was the first time they were asked to also use the cellphone's speakers so they could introduce sound patterns into the experience.
Each member of the audience downloads Makelight's custom app before the show, then a test signal is sent out that lets the program determine where each audience member's phone is located in the room. The program can then segment the room into sections, sending individual light and sound patterns to different areas of the crowd creating an immersive experience.
That all sounds good, but as we all know, cellphones don't exactly have the loudest speakers around, and at the first tech rehearsal they discovered that a phone's speaker was no match for the existing noise in the club. The last minute solution was to give each cellphone user a small plug-in speaker that could boost the phone's audio output tenfold.
Check out the video below to see how the whole project came together, along with a few clips of the initial performance of the First Orchestra of Phones.