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Discontrol Party
Photograph: © Samuel Bianchini
Photograph: © Samuel Bianchini
Photograph: © Didier Crasnault

Discontrol Party is festive and interactive installation by Samuel Bianchini connecting two worlds: the world of state of the art surveillance technology and the party world. Dance floor and venue are exposed both to the lights of the projectors and to a computerized control system using computer vision, RFID, and other electronic devices. During the course of a night, a theatrical venue becomes a nightclub set up as a control room. The usual light and vjing effects are replaced by screens on which the party goers can visualize in a variety of ways the computerized system as it watches them and analyzes their behaviour.
This is a game with a challenge. Can the partying outdo the system? Is it possible to create enough confusion for the system to ultimately break down? Is it even conceivable to produce a bug in the system? What makes this installation specific is that the public is invited to attend a party whose monitoring is fully disclosed and visible in real time. The audience thus discovers the mapping and listing of its own movements and behaviors, as well as their analysis by the system, at the same time that it elicits these reactions from the devices. Similarly the public can see both the images picked up by the surveillance cameras and these same images transformed for and by automatic analysis processes, and everything down to the representation of the activities of the generating data system itself. In this way, the audience can play with the devices and possibly disrupt them.
The world of surveillance and the world of party goers : While these two universes may seem antagonistic, they are related in that they both are tied to the activities of groups and crowds. Surveillance, however, – that is surveillance as used in a public space — is primarily concerned with organized crowd movements: bodies of people moving in a given direction, people in waiting lines and waiting rooms, on train platforms, at airports, etc. The movements of party goers, on the other hand, are rapid, unruly, and tend to group people in clusters. As such they are incompatible with the marking, tracing and individualization procedures of increasingly automated surveillance and control devices, e. g. the various types of recognition (form, identity behavior), traceability, etc.
By provoking the confrontation of these two worlds and the possible contamination of one by the other, the experimental dispositif of Discontrol Party hopes to revive some primitive traits of one of our most ancient rituals.

    The musicians invited to perform in the context of Discontrol Party all work in the field of contemporary electronic music. Their music is experimental and provocative. They all share a joyous taste for formal experiments, are stubbornly independent, and demonstrate a definite attraction for sabotage. They may be trusted to use the Discontrol device in the most creative and daring ways possible, and no doubt, they will encourage the audience to do the same! Throughout the evening, the public will be able to react to a variety of musical mecanique?, all examples of a radical free spirit. The program includes:
  • the noise music brand of trance music by the emblematic Finnish duo Pan Sonic, creator of radical organic electronic music, composed using pure frequency and infra-bass oscillations that have a seismic effect.
  • the weird urban, anarchic, sound saturated and irresistably danceable techno-funk of the goofy project Pigeon Funk, the product of Joshua Kit Clayton and Sutekh, the well-known team of agitators and key figures of the Californian experimental electronic scene.
  • the regressive, saucy and rough electro-punk energy of the French duo Sexy Sushi that loves to push the boundaries of so-called good taste.
  • the futuristic underground techno of the young Parisian Computer Truck, a major figure of the "circuit bending" movement (a movement that plays with short-circuiting cheap toys and gadgets in order to generate new sounds). He produces a particularly playful dance music with Game Boy devices, Speak & Spell machines and home made synthesizers.
  • not to forget the performance of the intriguing Persian Hassan K. of which we will only say for now that he tortures both the traditional instruments and the political history of his home country Iran.
  • and last but not least the mix of Sascii, a Parisian female DJ and producer who will take over the final battle ground.

We will see who of the artists or of the public will manage to disrupt the Discontrol system. And who of the system, spectators, and artists will be able to hold out until the end of the party!


Visual informatics


Java, Processing


A project developped in the context of the research laboratory on "Large Group Interaction" at the University of Valenciennes and EnsadLab, Laboratoy of The École nationale supérieure des arts décoratifs.
Paris November 20, 2009. Opening of the International arts festival Next
Espace Pasolini - International Theatre of Valenciennes

Music program:
Pan Sonic (Finland)
Sexy Sushi (France)
Pigeon Funk (USA)
Computer Truck (France)
Hassan K (Persia)
Sascii (France – Dj set)

Musical programming: Sylvie Astié

Video device (artistic collaboration and engineering): Keyvane Alinaghi
Visual computing: Oussama Mubarak
RFID capturing: Gérard Sinpraseuth and Théophile Zézé (ESVR Technologies)
Data processing and technical advice: Sylvie Tissot

With the support of the French National Research Agency (ANR),
the Calhiste laboratory, University of Valenciennes
and the Maison européenne des sciences de l'homme et de la société (MESHS) of Lille as part of the research project
PRACTICABLE - The Work of Art as Dispositif: Setting the Stage for Audience Participation

In partnership with:
the CiTu (Universities Paris 1 and Paris 8)
and the iMAL, Center for Digital Cultures and Technology, Brussels