Playing a "giant inhabitable harp": Tech meets musical art at The House of Peroni

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NEON-House-02.jpgThe House of Peroni, a month long pop-up London residency from the Italian beer merchants, is unlikely to be the first place you’d expect to find a tech-heavy art and sound installation. But that’s exactly where Tech Digest found itself strumming away at a “giant inhabitable harp”, inside an installation piece called NEON House.

A collaboration between pioneering design collective NEON and Allessio Natalizia (one half of electronic duo Walls, alongside Sam Willis), the NEON House sees the DJ booth itself become part of the musical performance. DSCF4019.JPGConsisting of a steel cube frame that “radiates” two kilometres of UV fluorescent string (making up the “walls” of the booth), each thread is also entwined with copper cabling and electronic sensors. When touched or pulled, these strings and sensors trigger a unique sampled sound which is pumped into a standard Pioneer mixing desk, ready to be manipulated by the DJs before blasting out of the connected sound system.

As well as offering those who perhaps otherwise wouldn’t get involved in electronic music an opportunity to flex their musical muscles, the piece also bridges one of the most impassable divides in all of live music – that between DJ and audience member. Whoever is behind the decks of the NEON House not only has to potentially field dreaded requests, but work in the inevitable stabs of sound created by those fingering the strings.

“It’s a great concept” Natalizia told Tech Digest.

“With the sounds triggered being harsh, it really works best when DJing ambient music. It can be tough when you’re trying to balance a beat with it! But the interactive part, the participation, is an interesting challenge.”NEON-House-10.jpgIt’s all part of Peroni’s aim to promote the “burgeoning contemporary creative revolution” Italy is currently enjoying, a revolution that The House of Peroni is positioning itself at the heart of. As well the installation and exhibitions of work from the likes of Vita Gottlieb, Haizhen Wang and innovative design collective Formafantasma, the pop-up also includes non-Peroni tipples from renowned mixologist Gerry Calabrese and mad-cap meals from the Michelin-starred Costardi brothers.

The technological innovations do not end with the harp installation however – an interactive design workshop hosted by designer Martijn Rigters offered visitors the chance to create an “intelligent” foam chair that could mould to the person sitting in it, while the entire house was kitted out with a speedy 4G mobile broadband connection provided by EE.DSCF4017.JPGThough The House of Peroni is coming to the end of its current residency at London’s 41 Portland Place, the team will once again enjoy an extended stay at the venue during the month of November, opening its doors to the public once more when the focus shifts towards Italian fashion.

For more on The House of Peroni, click here.

Gerald Lynch