Visible and Tactile Sound

Visualising Sound often provides inspiration within art and design practice, however the potential of recording sound from a tactile as well as an aesthetic perspective is rarely investigated.

The Visible and Tactile Sound project turns sounds into patterns and objects which can be felt or held. Lisa Cole has invented and developed a machine as a tool to translate sound onto surfaces. The primary material used is clay although the project could be altered to draw with ink, paint or wet concrete.

Sound is spoken into or played via a mobile phone that acts as a microphone and amplifier. Using an Arduino as a graphic equaliser, different frequencies of sound make motors react instead of light. The motors control the speed and direction of a turntable (which holds the target object) and the height of a pendulum, which is fitted to deliver clay slip.

The shape the pendulum draws is altered by the rotation of the turntable. The resulting “record” of the sound can include raised lines and braille like dots.

There are many variables that can be altered with slip consistency and textures can be subtle or more obvious. Alternatively, the shapes created on the turntable can be sliced and reformed to create three dimensional forms of the sounds.

This project is in early development stage. The next iteration planned is to convert it to deliver clay slip via extrusion and to replace the pendulum with levers in a pantograph form. Drawing with more substantial clay would mean the shapes could hold their own weight and there would be no aesthetic judgement required to close up holes and make the shapes into vessels.

Because the machine draws multiple lines, there is potential to working with multiple voices, for example: social stories laid over each other could be analysed to see if radially (radically?) different stories share shapes.

The end product can not be played back or heard, so it may lend itself to recording secrets.

There may be the possibility of adding sound to the objects, or to make them playable.

The Arduino code and rough instructions for making the drawing machine are on Instructables under a Creative Commons license. I welcome expansion and contributions to the project in a non commercial way.

Finished ‘We are Family’ trio

lines from songs are on the underneath of these bowls thanks to Arduino

The Tiny Art Gallery Manual

a book to help you run your own small gallery kindle and in print

a book to help you run your own small gallery kindle and in print