Retrospective reflection is part of the motivation behind C-240 (2001-2014), an electronic sound visualization developed by Yucef Merhi to translate spoken words and music into colorful geometric patterns. The installation takes a step back from hi-tech visualization systems and investigates the contemporary relevance of the music visualizer as social phenomena. It looks back on the history of video game consoles, pointing out the celebrated Atari VCS 2600. In 1976, Atari invented the first electronic music visualizer: the Atari Video Music. Initially, the machine was described as an “Audio activated video display” under the US patent 4081829.
C-240 explores people’s sonic engagement with the LED gallery façade. It reframes ancient technologies, such as a rare and unique device that was developed in the 1970s to represent sound frequencies as visual patterns. The music visualizer, which is integrated in the artwork, allows for an analog engagement with the otherwise digital building. The installation encourages audience participation by letting people on the street speak into a microphone. Since the microphone is connected to the Atari device, real-time sounds become visual representations on the façade. Also, an answer machine empowers remote audiences to call and leave messages to the building, and these recorded messages are played when audiences on site are not engaging. So are recorded sounds from Paulista Avenue.
The visuals show colorful geometric patterns, which can be choreographed by voice interaction. Additional LED screens next to the gallery building façade are “transformed into Atari video game stations” and bring awareness to early game aesthetics. They trigger a sea of memories to the many bypassing Brazilians who grew up with the Atari game consoles.