Discontrol Party

Festive and Interactive Installation, 2009
Samuel Bianchini

Video device (artistic collaboration and engineering): Keyvane Alinaghi

Musical programming: Sylvie Astié

Visual computing: Oussama Mubarak
RFID capturing: Gérard Sinpraseuth and Théophile Zézé (ESVR Technologies)
Data processing and technical advice: Sylvie Tissot
Assistant : Antoine Villeret

With the support of the French National Research Agency (ANR), the Calhiste laboratory, University of Valenciennes and the Maison européenne des sciences de l’homme et de la société (MESHS) of Lille as part of the research project PRACTICABLE – The Work of Art as Dispositif: Setting the Stage for Audience Participation. A project developped in the context of the research laboratory on « Large Group Interaction » at the University of Valenciennes and EnsadLab, Laboratoy of The École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs.

Paris November 20, 2009. Opening of the International arts festival Next Espace Pasolini – International Theatre of Valenciennes


Discontrol Party is an interactive dispositif connecting two worlds: the world of state of the art surveillance technology and the party world. Dance floor and venue are exposed both to the lights of the projectors and to a computerized control system using computer vision, RFID, and other electronic devices. During the course of a night, a theatrical venue becomes a nightclub set up as a control room. The usual light and vjing effects are replaced by screens on which the party goers can visualize in a variety of ways the computerized system as it watches them and analyzes their behaviour.
This is a game with a challenge. Can the partying outdo the system? Is it possible to create enough confusion for the system to ultimately break down? Is it even conceivable to produce a bug in the system? What makes this installation specific is that the public is invited to attend a party whose monitoring is fully disclosed and visible in real time. The audience thus discovers the mapping and listing of its own movements and behaviors, as well as their analysis by the system, at the same time that it elicits these reactions from the devices. Similarly the public can see both the images picked up by the surveillance cameras and these same images transformed for and by automatic analysis processes, and everything down to the representation of the activities of the generating data system itself. In this way, the audience can play with the devices and possibly disrupt them.
The world of surveillance and the world of party goers : While these two universes may seem antagonistic, they are related in that they both are tied to the activities of groups and crowds. Surveillance, however, – that is surveillance as used in a public space — is primarily concerned with organized crowd movements: bodies of people moving in a given direction, people in waiting lines and waiting rooms, on train platforms, at airports, etc. The movements of party goers, on the other hand, are rapid, unruly, and tend to group people in clusters. As such they are incompatible with the marking, tracing and individualization procedures of increasingly automated surveillance and control devices, e. g. the various types of recognition (form, identity behavior), traceability, etc.
By provoking the confrontation of these two worlds and the possible contamination of one by the other, the experimental dispositif of Discontrol Party hopes to revive some primitive traits of one of our most ancient rituals.

version 2.0: