Sonic Water is a cymatics installation.
Cymatics is the process of visualizing sound and vibrations through matter, such as for example sand or water.
In the beginning there was sound.
The reason cymatics exerts such a strong fascination is that we are not conditioned to "see sound". Cymatics is like a magic tool that unveils the true substance of things audible, but conventionally invisible.
With it one can recreate the archetypes of different forms of nature.
So sound does have form and cymatics enables you to comprehend that it not only affects but causes form in matter.
In fact, we think sound had a fundamental influence on the formation of the universe itself. But that is another story.
Primarily, we are fascinated by the simplicity of this subject.
All it takes is sound and a very basic medium such as water to create... well, what could be (and in our view is) the coolest sound visualizer.
How does it work?
Our installation at the Photography Playground in Berlin consists of two different areas.
A self-running installation and a DIY water-sound-image laboratory where people can experiment with their own cymatics.
The setup in both areas is almost identical. The only difference is, that you can use your own camera and create your own soundscapes in the DIY laboratory.
The installation is very simple: A sound signal is used to vibrate a speaker. On top of the speaker membrane we have applied a plate and on the plate we have then glued an ordinary bottle cap. The bottle cap (or the whole plate) is filled with water. The water works as a flexible three-dimensional sculpture mass, that translates the sound into pictures. The vibration of the speaker creates one of a kind water-sound-images in response to the respective sound impulse - from chaotic patterns to standing mandala-like waves.
The camera films the speaker from above and basically shoots a macro mode live view of the bottle cap action which is projected onto a large screen.
When people enter the room they initially just see the big screen cymatics projections. However, once they approach the cube with the speaker they suddenly grasp the setup and have this moment of incredulity and utter bewilderment, that a setup as simple as ours can create such astounding visuals. But this part of our installation is actually just an incentive or an ice breaker.
Our actual intention is for the audience to have fun in the laboratory, where they can create and document their own cymatics.
In the DIY laboratory you clamp a Olympus OMD camera on the stand, which you get upon entering the exhibition and you can then film or take photos of the water-sound-images you create by means of sound signals from a synthesizer, by using your own voice (via a microphone) or by just playing your favorite song on your smartphone.
What does it look like if you hum your favorite tune into the microphone? What does Wagners "Twilight of the Gods" look like in cymatics?
The results are images reminiscent of the shape of flowers, the form of a starfish, the patterns of turtleshells, cell division, the golden ratio, the flower of life - all depending on the individual frequency impulse.
In the laboratory you become the creator, the big bang and part of the genesis.
Chiaroscuro is a culmination of contrasts; the interplay of light and dark, the tangible and intangible, the old and new. The installation is a contemporary interpretation of "Chiaroscuro", a term more commonly associated with 17th century painting, that is as hand-made as it is digitally enabled.
Drawing in the installation is the fundamental element -- spanning the physical structure, the light-mapping and the projection itself. By digitizing the drawing, the simple expression of mark-making becomes transmutable. It is reinterpreted to take on a new form and dimension in the software -- it transforms into structures manipulatable through time.
If drawing is an analogy for basic human expression, Chiaroscuro is an immersive installation that augments the drawn image in scale, sound, and scope by harnessing the imaginative potential of interdisciplinary processes and technologies.
Musee D'art Moderne et Contemporain Géneve
May 2-10, 2013
Commissioned by Mapping Festival
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Creative direction by: Sougwen Chung
Original Music by Praveen Sharma
Technical direction: Andrien Boulanger
Arduino Programming by: Adam Harvey
Structural Supports by: Square Fabrication
Filmed by: Linda Cavaliero, Marcelline Gamma
Thanks to: Ana Ascensio, Boris Edelstein, Adrien Boulanger, Justine Beaujouan, Loic Shutter, Audrey Powell, Jorge Escobar, Yves Evequoz, Nonotak Studios, Wengnam Yap, Adi Panuntun, Sony Budi Sasono, Gaz Bushell, Anthony Rowe, Linda Cavaliero, BLACK OUT ( blackout.fr ), Adrien Boulanger, Fanny Visser, Will Wires Dardelin, Fabrice Giraud, Fabio Manozzi
From the album, "Wild Light". Released September 16, 2013
This video is partly a response to a quote from Alex Rutterford, director of the seminal "Gantz Graf" video. Rutterford hand-animated his piece because he claimed, in 2002, that it was impossible for an algorithm to make a music video. These are his words:
"Everyone says 'how long did it take you?' How did you do it, they always want to ask me technical questions. I'd really love to be able to say to them, 'I just wrote a computer algorithm, and the computer did it all. I wrote a program and it all just intelligently works it out,' but it doesn't exist, it's fools gold thinking that someone can sit there writing a piece of software that can make intelligent decisions about pace and animation."
I hope this proves him wrong. "Prisms" is fully algorithmic. There are no cuts, just one continuous generative animation. All decisions (camera work, movements, formations, etc...) are made by my system's interpretation of the audio track. My work was creating the system and then curating its output or, to put it another way, I just wrote a computer algorithm, and the computer did it all. - Matt Pearson