Quiet Ensemble turns your fish tank into a concert hall

Quintetto promo from Quiet ensemble on Vimeo.

A new installation by Italian art collective Quiet Ensemble will have you looking at your goldfish bowl in a whole new way. Called “Quintetto,” the collective took five enormous water tanks, each harboring a cheery little fishy, and videotaped their movements. A custom software program then interpreted their (generally pretty erratic) motion to produce subtle electronic sounds that change depending on the position, orientation or direction of the fish. The resulting songs are surprisingly beautiful, even kind of soothing. The sort of thing you would listen to in the bathtub, contemplating buying a goldfish.

“Quintetto” is the latest in a series of unusual musical experiments by the collective, which has even fashioned entire soundtracks out of recordings made inside hamster cages (really). Their general philosophy, as it’s explained on their website, is to interpret random natural patterns to create interesting, improvisational music, which they’ve poetically dubbed “invisible concerts.”

The project was recently named third runner-up at Berlin’s International Contemporary Art Awards, but I think the idea has potential for mass market retail. Clearly, one would need to make the system a little more user-friendly, and, not to undermine how cool the installation is, I could even see a miniature version of this thing appearing in, say, the Sharper Image catalogue. Who among us doesn’t have a stoner friend with way too many goldfish that would totally freak out if suddenly they started making crazy electronic sounds?