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Electronic Peristyle

medium_Seawright%20Electronic%20PeristylThis interactive art installation or “reactive environment,” to use the artist’s term, was first shown at the William Nelson Rockhill Gallery of Art in Kansas City as part of the Magic Theater exhibition in 1968.  Developed with the assistance of Robert Moog, the pioneering inventor of electronic musical instruments, Electronic Peristyle employs digital circuits to control a sound synthesizer, fans, and lights.  Twelve electronic columns surround a transparent globe set on a cylindrical base.  Light beams emitted from the base, like spokes on a wheel, strike sensors on the columns.  By breaking the beams, the participator alters the sound, light patterns, and wind effects.  Seawright noted that, “The way the effects, or phenomena, are organized is designed to allow the viewer to see that he is influencing what is going on, although it is initially unclear just how he can anticipate what effect his actions will have.” As the viewer’s activity becomes more complex, so does the piece’s behaviour.