Can walls make waves? Well the thought-provoking #PlayThisWall has been making friends at festivals and events across Europe, with its great electronic sounds. It has even made an appearance with Music Tech Fest at the #Horizon2020 #H2020Future conference at the EU Commission. It’s a double sided wall musical interface by sound artist Run Dreamer, and we asked him to tell us all about it.

What is #PlayThisWall?

So #PlayThisWall is an ongoing project of playable wall interfaces that serve as a collaborative music platform, double sided walls that are designed based on models of existing separation walls - in this case the famous Berlin Wall - and each one is playable on both sides so at least two people can play it simultaneously.

We hear two of the walls have been on a mini european tour over the past few weeks

Yes, one played in Warsaw and Madrid (and will be in Zurich next week) and the other one was in Berlin at the famous Loop music makers summit greeting people in, and later in London at a gallery in Soho as a part of the Berlin pop-up Lab.

What inspired you to start this project?

Coming from the Middle East the relationship between borders and walls both mental and physical to freedom was interesting for me for obvious reasons. Wall can be shelter which is a basic human need but when it “shelters” a bigger group of people it has different consequences and its need is open for debate. I think there is a big connection between the physical and mental blocks in this case and by changing the narrative or reversing the design purpose of these walls we can gain a new perspective.

We played the wall in London and it was pretty surprising at first, did you find people’s reactions to the wall interesting?

Very much so. People react to it in various ways, there is what I like to call “the face” which is the first reaction of people who are not familiar with the technological concepts behind it and are being exposed to it for the first time (the wtf face.) There are the techies who come up with guesses as to the technology behind it, that are way more complicated than the actual thing (like video processing and proximity sensors). The kids do the most crazy stuff like playing with their butt / nose / elbow or just stretch their capabilities and body or jump high to get to the less accessible triggers, which I found really interesting.

One time I saw kids fighting over the sides where one kid would go to the other side and the rest would follow while fighting over dominating the wall. They didn’t get the collaborative aspect, and nobody wanted to be on the “other side”. Also with adults I often found people very curious about the other side in different ways - constantly picking to see what’s there or even trying to stand in the middle and play both sides simultaneously.

What is it made of?

It’s made of a condensed type of Styrofoam and is wired with conductive materials connected to electronics that trigger sound design elements. This specific wall was built and designed by Christian Hermann and the layout concept / vector art and sound were designed by me.

What’s next?

I see that walls are coming back this year and become increasingly popular so I’m pretty optimistic about it. I’m building a few other models and going to let them ironically travel the world.

The #PlayThisWall team are:

Christian Hermann - Wall industrial design and Graffiti background
Eyal Weisz - Programming
Run Dreamer - Vector triggers design / wall concept and sound design