Sound Wave

Gabriela Neumann and Victor Gonzalez

April / April - 2018

Universität der Künste Berlin


Sound Wave is an interactive multi-sensorial installation, in which music, movement and physical principles merge to create a dynamic freeform-surface. Through an intuitive interface, two impulses can be generated simultaneously: sound and movement, which in synergy create unexpected visual effects.

What is the Topic?

How would it be possible to transform sound into a kinetic form? Imagine creating your environment playing music or composing music while expressing it visually. In nature, visual arts, music and mathematics, we can find similar patterns. They are proportions that resonate in our mind and give us a sense of harmony. Simple harmonic relations, both visual and acoustic, affect our emotions in a positive way. Therefore the relation between our visual and acoustic perceptions was studied, emphasizing harmony, by designing an interactive device based on biomechanical principles found in nature.

Why does it look like this?

With the idea of developing, as final installation, a spiral shaped space in which the user can enter and experience the effect of a constantly changing chamber while s/he plays continuous music, first a kinetic surface within a planar frame was built, which could also act as a screen. To develop a surface that moves according to the pitch of specially selected notes, chords and arpeggios, a parametric design was conceived, in which a surface is made up of finite elements (strips) that are linked together so that it is possible to control one and influence the others directly.

What is special?

How to compose music thinking not only how it sounds but also how it looks? To explore simultaneously acoustic and visual harmony the purest sounds and mathematical relations were investigated. One of the earliest research on music and mathematics relates to Pythagoras, who discovered that the most beautiful musical relationships are also simple mathematical relations, creating the Pythagorean intervals or harmonic intervals, composed of sounds found all over the world and since the beginning of humanity. Each pad (or interval, such as the octave 2:1, the fifth 3:2 or the fourth 4:3) played changes the shape of the surface by displacing the guiding strips center up or downwards. The geometric relation between the upper and the lower curves of these strips are in direct relation to the played musical interval. It expresses continuously harmonic intervals not only acoustically but also visually, creating a sense of timeline.

What is new?

The action of the interactor will always vary. That is what defines the installation as an ever changing element, where every new intervention is different to the previous one. This surprising moment should inspire the curiosity and the creativity of the interactor. It is possible that the perception through two senses at the same time of the music played provokes an unusual emotional experience. Sound Wave is an exploratory installation that could be used in public and private spaces in fields like music, visual arts, science and education, as well as a visual experience for people with hearing disabilities.