bret battey • bat hat media


Traces, Molten

Video + Sound Installation (2022)

Installation Documentation

Traces, Molten is an audiovisual installation for two-HD-screen-wide projection (3840x1080) and stereo sound. It invites contemplation of a continually transforming immersive sound and image landscape, driven by mathematical processes. Perhaps this is a glimpse of the exquisite, molten dance of millions of sub-atomic particles — or traces of an intangible order underlying the cosmos.

I open my scuttle at night and see the far-sprinkled systems,
And all I see multiplied as high as I can cipher edge but the
                 rim of the farther systems..
See ever so far, there is limitless space outside that,
Count ever so much, there is limitless time around that.

                                          — Walt Whitman, Leaves of Grass

Traces, Molten was created for the British Science Festival 2022, held in Leicester, UK, in collaboration with De Montfort University.

Technical Details

I developed the visual material with my custom OptiNelder plug-in filter for Apple’s Motion 5 video effects software. We see the activity of hundreds to thousands of mathematical algorithmic agents exploring an input image. It uses new functions the were developed for my piece 'Estuaries 4', where these functions try to find the peaks of a mathematical function. In this case, the target function was one called the 'eggholder', commonly used for testing optimisation algorithms. The eggholder function shape changes slowly as its parameters are gradually altered. Abstract textures arise and transform as the Nelder-Mead agents ceaselessly hunt for — and occasionally actually find — the shifting peaks of this invisible system underneath.

The music was created primarily through computer-based manipulations of recordings of flute sounds played by flautist Jen George and layering of metal percussion (saw blades, Tibetan bowl and pentatonic drum) performed by Deniz Ertan.

Presentation Details

Image size: 3840x1080 (2x HD width) via 2 HD projectors or single 4k projector
Sound: stereo


  • Installation
    • Sep, 2022 – British Science Festival, LCB Depot, Leicester, UK [premiere]