Heartbreak Hotel

Heartbreak Hotel is an interactive, immersive, sound spatialized environment, in which the user/ viewers play with figurines on a physical "real world" interface.


The physical environment used to present the work is a sound deadened chamber in the form of a giant heart.  The public enters the heart. In the center is a transparent table surrounded by eight invisible loud speakers.  The public is able to place figurines representing six different characters on a table and move them around.




When a figure is moved , a synthetic voice moves through the space, mirroring the movement of the figurine.  If a different figurine representing a different character is placed on the table, the corresponding characters' voice begins to speak from that location.When a group of two or more figurines is formed (i.e. they come within a certain distance of one another) they start to converse with each other, exchanging comments in a pattern which although not predefined tends to "make sense", the course of the conversation that takes place within a group varies following such parameters as:

Several groups can be formed at the same time if they are separated in the space, if  three groups are formed at the same time the result can become quite cacophonic.

Heart-break Hotel can be played with alone or with up to six people.


The theme of Heartbreak Hotel  is of course lost love. The characters are generic types; a male yuppie (dot.comer), a dumb blond, a female rock and roll goth, a cowboy/survivalist, a male poet and a nun.  So much of modern society and an individuals identity is filtered through media images that often a person shapes their identity to fit the flattened icons of media. Heartbreak points out this flattening.  In a process of removing the author Peter and I sought to utilize computer programs to generate text .  In this way we could write dictionaries of words and expressions specific to each character, input these into the programs and generate the script.  Peter often remarks that much of what we do is prepare the machines to be creative.  We agree however that the opposite direction of self obsessed artistic invention seems a lackluster alternative.