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TiMax controls multisensory beehive install at Kew Gardens

Duncan Proctor 21 September 2016
TiMax controls multisensory beehive install at Kew Gardens

TiMax show control equipment, alongside a range of AV solutions, has been utilised for an immersive art installation called ‘The Hive’, which opened this summer at London’s Kew Gardens and will run for 18 months, having debuted at the UK Milan Expo 2015 pavilion.

The 17m-high abstract aluminium lattice structure provides visitors with a unique multisensory experience as it responds, with the help of a TiMax SoundHub playback server and audio show controller, to the activity of real bees in a beehive located behind the scenes at Kew.

The intent of this walk-in figurative beehive installation is to help highlight the significance and plight of bees in our food-chain and ecology. Inside The Hive, multichannel dynamic lighting and audio effects are driven by special software, developed by freelance developer Andy Coates to provide real-time show control data based on the activity of Kew’s bee colony. Live data is received from accelerometers installed in the Garden’s own hives by Nottingham Trent University’s Dr Martin Bencsik, the leading research specialist in the field who was central contributor to the original Milan project.

Over 1,000 LED luminaires which line the interior of the Hive provide a shifting multi-coloured response to the bee colony’s activity, while remote audio feeds of their complex hive chatter are immersively wrapped and floated around within the structure by TiMax, alongside individual and submixed musical stems. The music-scape was composed by core members of the band Spiritualised and collaborators pulled together by installation artist Wolfgang Buttress.

TiMax receives random bee-driven MIDI triggers from Coates’s software, which combine with scheduled music playback TiMax Cues to create layered spatialisation and panning effects, all rendered in the object-based TiMax PanSpace 3D spatialisation environment.

Kew utilises virtually the same Hive soundscape used in Milan, re-purposed and tweaked on site by Out Board director Robin Whittaker who programmed and mapped the original soundscape onto the multi-channel surround system designed by Mike Bedford of Hoare Lee. As well as playback and all dynamic 3D spatialisation, TiMax SoundHub handles eq, delay and zone level trim for the 18 miniature Meyer MM4 speakers distributed around the hive structure, along with six compact Meyer subs.

Picture: Jeff Eden

TiMax show control

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