Death of the Sirens
- Rongxuan (Roxanne) Zhou
- Weitzman School of Design (PennDesign)
Student Creative Production Grant
The project “Death of the Sirens” is an interactive theatrical installation. Sirens are mythological creatures that are said to lure and kill sailors with their otherworldly beautiful singing; resistance to the Siren’s song results in thedeath of the Sirens. In Greek mythology, only Odysseus and Orpheus survived the deadly temptation. Roxanne Zhou’s interactive structure intends to capture the last living moment of the Sirens. The visitor (“mortal”), after entering inside of the structure, can speak, sing, or play an instrument to the interior wall (“Sirens”), which would record the input. The system would then enter either one of two modes depending on the type of input. In “Odysseus” mode, the system takes vocal input (talking and singing) and alters the input recording with an algorithm that may change the frequency and length of the recording or reverse the recording; the algorithm-edited recording would be then played back to the visitor. The inspiration for this comes from Franz Kafka’s short story, “The Silence of the Sirens.” According to Kafka’s analysis, the Sirens were silent as Odysseus was passing by. In “Orpheus” mode, the system receives instrumental input and applies the same algorithm described to therecording. In addition, a motor-controlled lyre also activates and plays a pre-composed piece. The end of this interaction between the visitor and the system entails the “mortal” successfully resisting the temptation of the“Sirens.” Therefore, as the visitor leaves the structure, the system becomes silent, as the “Sirens” have reached the end of their life.