Space replay is a project designed by Francesco Tacchini, Julinka Ebhardt and Will Yates-Johnson of the London’s Royal College of Art. As the title implies, this device is a floating black sphere which records and replays ambient sounds after a short delay.
The ultralight balloon is equipped with an Arduino controller with an hacked Adafruit Wave shield and a small speaker to enhance the volume.
Whereas the designers’ intention was to produce “a delayed echo of human activity” in public spaces, many websites have acknowledged the disturbing nature of an object that, in addition to manipulate space by its acoustic intervention, seems to stalk and menace people.
In the video below, the eerie presence of the sphere slowly but steadily moving through a subway station, in an elevator and in other transitional areas, reminds that of an entity appearing since 1967 in the classic British television program The Prisoner. There, a floating white ball, called The Rover, was able to coerce or even kill people, namely the inhabitants of the Village. Since the device only appeared in one episode (“The Schizoid Man”), but was evoked many times throughout the script, it could be considered a reference and inspiration for similar scary entities in popular culture, such as the “Smoke Monster” in the “Lost” saga.
In both cases no special effects were needed to convey a Magritte-like sense of threat by pure forms – the spheres – with no intrinsical menacing qualities.