Forever Rising (or falling)

Most people are familiar with the lithographs by the Dutch artist M. C. Esher of impossible buildings. Waterfalls that keep on flowing or a staircase that constantly rises. These are based on figures devised by English mathematician Roger Penrose.

What people are not familiar with is the audio equivalent of this effect : Shepherd Tones. This is a sequence of tones that appear to be constantly rising but never actually get any higher.

These two effects come together in this piece. The viewer is faced by a circle of sensors on the floor. As they walk round treading on the sensors they trigger a sequence of ever rising tones. At the same time a bouncing ball rolls around a parapet on a graphics display. The display and the sounds are triggered by the viewer. The display for ever rises, the sound for ever rises but the viewer just walks round in a circle. The audio illusion and visual illusion are brought together in the reality of of the viewers experience.

If however, the viewer walks round the other way the notes and graphics continuously fall.


Forever Rising - An audio and visual illusion


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