Project Description


Art Performance Apparatus

Michael Montanaro : ​original concept, creative direction
Peter Van Haaften : creative direction, composition, sound
Tatev Yesayan : visual design, fabrication

September 2017 – Sight and Sound, Montreal, Canada
September 2018 – Ars Electronica, Linds, Austria
June 2019 – Electra, Montreal, Canada

Spiel is an in situ performance for prepared mouth.

While absorbed in conversation you notice a stranger approaching. With a curious instrument affixed to their face the visitor leans in, and listens. The mouth opens, patterns of rhythm and sound emanate from within: voices recognizable as your own. Spun out of focus, words reveal their ingrained subtleties as the collector of conversation captures the sentence but not the sentiment. Vocal exchanges are recalled and reflected. Voices are transformed by physical formant inflections, while acoustic hallucinations seem to reference what might have been said. An étude on hearing lips and seeing voices, the performer’s mechanically augmented vocal tract reshapes and filters conversational spectra into new modes of mis-communication.

Spiel physically unravels the tenuous synesthetic relationship between what is seen, heard and understood.


Easy Assembly

The mask is assembles with small screws that can be easily disassembled if certain parts need to be changed, for example to change the lenght of the piece following the jaw line and accommodate different performers. The screws allow for a loose connection at the junction of the jaw and ears, in order to allow a range of motions for the performer’s mouth, and can be screwed tightly in areas where the mask needs to be fixed at a specific angle.

Stable Chin Piece

Since the entire operation of the Spiel mask depends on the tube that carries the sound into the performer’s mouth to be in a fixed space, the chin piece (that also carries a motion sensor) acts as the stable point to which all the other components of the mask are connected. Thus the tube moves down with the motion of the performer’s jaw and always stays lined up on the edge of the mouth.

Tabs for Wiring

Small folded tabs allow the wires to be contained safely and changed if necessary, and act as the connection point with the performer’s face. They thus transform the half cylindric shape of the pieces into a channel which also prevents the edges of the mask to be in contact with the performer’s skin.

F I N A L   P R O D U C T

P E R F O R M A N C E : Ars Electronica 09/18