Page 1



PROPOSAL ••••••••••••••• Field of Study |

In this project my initial intention is to explore the transition between image and sound, directing my research into fields such as “particle velocity”, “sound particles” and “cymatics”. My research and findings will dictate the medium of my final outcome; although I know that I will be using mainly film, photography and my design skills to develop my final piece. I feel these formats would be most appropriate as I have demonstrated these skills in previous projects. Overall this specific theme will lend itself well to my skill set.

•••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• •••••••• Design Focus/Question/Problem/ Proposition | I’m interested in how this phenomenon of Cymatics can be used in audio visual design. My aim is to look at the method and process of translating sound into an image. It is very fascinating how music can have such a diversity of shapes.

•••••••••• Context |

“Vibration underpins all matter in the universe. No matter can exist without sound and vibration. To see the periodic motions that lie at the heart of matter is to lift the veils that conceal many mysteries of the universe.” Home of the CymaScope (internet) ••••••••••• Rationale |

This project is important for me because music always has been a big part of my life and I find it very interesting to translate music into image. I think the importance of this project in wider context is that the relation between sound and image for human beings was always combined. “Since the early days of Modernism, the interplay between art and music has given considerable impetus to the development of new art forms.” Barbara John (internet) Exploration of this relation would give me better insight and understanding of “how to” translate sound into visuals. •••••••••• Methods |

I’m planning base my project strictly on research in my particular field. Exploring other peoples experiments rather than repeat them my self. I’m more interested how technology can be applied in this subject matter to create visuals from sound.

••••••••••••••••• Skills Evidence |

For this project I will need research skills, planning skills. Craft Science Story Telling Propaganda Philosophy ••••••••••••••••••••••• Predicted Resolutions |

At this stage of research I’m not sure what the final outcome could look like or be. It may be a book, web site, installation or film.

RESEARCH Everyday can be inspiring. In my life research is a constant process. Every paper I read, movie I watch or music I listen to could be inspiring. It doesn’t matter if it’s a good book or TV show, consciously or not, it always has an effect on work I produce.

If we knew what it was we were doing, it would not be called research, would it? Albert Einstein

In this particular project I started to explore Cymatics as my starting point. Cymatics is field of study that concentrates on the physical side of sound including experiments, effects of sound vibrations on fluids, powders, and liquid paste.

First recorded studies about Cymatics were by Robert Hooke at Oxford University. On July 1680. Hooke formed the experiment of glass vibrating; this was done by putting flour onto a glass plate and is bowing on the edge of glass, later on Ernst Chladni based his whole research on this experiment. Chladni achieved recognition for his pioneering work in the mathematical analysis of acoustic, later on people like Hans Jenny carried on the experiments who concluded in his second part book Cymatics: The Study of Wave Phenomena: “This is not an unregulated chaos; it is a dynamic but ordered pattern.” John Stuart Reid is arguably the current world leader in cymatic research, specifically focused on scientific exploration. He is co inventor of the CymaScope (along with Erik Larson), an instrument that makes sound visible. Another artist such as Evan Grant demonstrates the science and art of cymatics - a process for making soundwaves visible. Useful for analyzing complex sounds (like dolphin calls), it also makes complex and beautiful designs.

My adventure with Cymatics has started with exploring work of Hans Jenny, Swedish born scientist. Jenny made use of crystal oscillators an invention of his own, by the name of the tonoscope to set plates and membranes vibrating.

For the next step I decided to get to the roots of Cymatics and take a look into Ernst Chladni father of Cymatics and Chladni Platter creator.

Born 1756 in Wittenburg, German scientist, achieved recognition for his pioneering work in the mathematical analysis of acoustics.

In order to understand how this works, I looked into different devices that can measure sound, vibrations and frequencies.

John Stuart Reid is arguably the current world leader in cymatic research, specifically focused on scientific exploration. He is co inventor of the CymaScope (along with Erik Larson, below), an instrument that makes sound visible.

One of these is the SEISMOGRAPH. An instrument that measures motions of the ground including those of seismic waves generated by earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, and other seismic sources.

Examples from the CYMASCOPE device that creates sound “Mandalas”. This device is a prototype built by scientists, which is not widely accesible. However with modern technology and posibilities perhaps this device can be digitalized.

Continuing my research online, this particular clip grabbed my attention. It is a music video with an inventive adaptation of the seismograph, where the seismarm is adapted to vibrate on each sound from different instruments creating a visual record of each frequency. This video is very convicing until about midway as marks on the paper start to lift up and turn into particles than disapear into air. Then we realise is all rendered.


Another device I wish to get is the DECIBEL METER. The sound level meters measure sound pressure level and are commonly used in noise pollution studies for the quantification of almost any noise, but especially for industrial, environmental and aircraft noise.

OSCILLOSCOPE – I didn’t know anything about how to measure, create waves, or frequencies. I started looking into devices such as the oscilloscope just to get my mind around the idea of sonic wave. I also found out some interesting facts about oscillators.

Corn Starch Experiment, YOUTUBE

A big part of my research was spent on looking into experiments like this one based on corn starch also called “starch monsters”. This experiment is made by mixing cornstarch with water into thick consistency and using

a pan, speakers, and frequency generator to create the impression of being alive. It is proof that frequencies can move through all kinds of structures.

Here is an experiment made by my fellow colleague and graphic designer Luke White 3rd year GD UCA. He used half of plastic cup with clingfilm over the top, and a small piece of mirror attached to the film. When a laser is pointed at the piece of mirror and music is playing loudly, the bass makes the clingfilm move which makes the laser beam shift, creating a pattern.

The nature of reality is mathematical. It represents everything there is in all of reality, as it can show the frequencies, tones, wave lengths, and the fact that everything is in fact waves, in mathematical terms. Reality is mathematically represented in music, it is geometry, yet so much more. In fact, there is a tone, or frequecy to everything. It was now logical to research how musical scales are costructed.

Spreads from book HARMONOGRAPF by A.ASHTON

Spreads from book HARMONOGRAPF by A.ASHTON

INSPIRATION The biggest inspiration for this project would be British artist EVAN GRANT who is working in the field of CYMATICS. The book CYMATICS by HANS JENNY and HARMONOGRAPH, a book by ANTHONY ASHTON which includes a subtitle directly connected to my project intitled; A VISUAL GUIDE TO THE MATHEMATICS OF MUSIC.

Example from book HARMONOGRAPF by A.ASHTON


Examples taken from CYMASCOPE website.


In order to get better understanding on how Cymatics works I decided to set up a few experiments. An aim I set my self was to build a Chladni platter controlled by a vibration generator. Unfortunately this complex and expensive equipment isn’t compatible

with my small budget so I decided to build it my self. Vibration generation was replaced with an old speaker and found an old metal plate which I could possibly transform into a Chladni plate.

Here I am mapping my ideas for experiments. From the Harmograph book I categorised experiments into 4 possible groups. Lissajous Figures which is an experiment with a laser. Harmonographs which is an experiment based on pendulum, rotates with a

pencil attached to the end. Lastly, the Kaleidophone which is essentually squiggles from a vibrating rod and Chladni Plate. I decided to focus just on one branch of vibrations.

Here is my initial attempt to illustrate how the final outcome could be. At first I imagined it as a peice of software like a voice recognition device whereby the audience can speak into it and it can be used to illustrate the sound of the voice. The wave represents a piece of recording where the device is picking up the most recogniswable frequencies, this creates a visual (top right of image) of a cymatic pattern. I choose not to follow this route as not all frequencies have a pattern and so I wasn’t able to map all the frequences.

Also at this point I started to look into different software to analyse recorded sound in the studio. When watching sound waves on the screen, I got to the point where I started to search for the visual relation between sound waves and cymatic patterns.

At this point I couldn’t wait to get to the studio and use the tools to create some vibrations. However, my first two experiments were a big failure. This is as the old speaker paper and wood was not enough to get the particles moving. I needed to start to look for different solutions.

After a few unsuccessful experiments with different materials I built a simple cymatic device from plumbing pipe and a balloon. It was controlled by human voice which createed patterns. The higher the frequency, the more complex the pattern.

After a series of successful experiments it was time to digitalise the knowledge I gained at this point. The most reasonable and suitable software for this task seemed to be Processing. So I started

mapping from the simplest, most basic shape - a circle. Through the process of research and experimentation I started to complicate code into more sophisticated shapes such as infinity, a flower etc.

The next reasonable step in the process was to write code which would rotate to give our outcome the effect of constant movement.

Here we got to the point where we used output in the form of a constant self drowning circle.

basic_minim This code (both taken from is reacting directly onto sound input creating a visual equalizer, display all frequencies.

After a small modification the frequency starts to look like buildings and creates a city effect.

minim_draw This code is reacting directly onto sound input, the simple circle is changing size everytime pitch becomes higher.

At this point I wish to use this code in my final outcome.

I decided to change the colour of the background into black and circle to opposite to give better visual effect. In the end I imagine the display of my final outcome in dark room on the wall or on a big screen.

After my struggle with combining the two (Pure Data and Processing) with help from Oliver Smith, we finally acheived in creating code to work with pitch and volume as an input.

In order to have a large complexity, I began to experiment with a range of more complex shapes and start to map them.

FINAL OUTCOME I want this to be developed in the form of a screen saver application for the iPad and the iPhone, as well as possibly a visual for when listening to music and/or talking on the phone. I am pleased with the outcome as I feel the patterns are very hypnotic and almost act as an animation to the sound. Although current music players have an option to watch a visual illustration, they are however randomly generated whereas my design is based on physics, mathematics and

real data.


y intentional aim was to to visualise sound, I feel that I have fulfilled this and found a unique solution. In terms of my skill set using the method of Processing was very exciting and helped to refine my skills that I learnt and will continue to nurture. Elements that I would have changed would include perhaps an addition to the code, mainly to develop a more complex design. Also a bigger range of patterns maybe a 3D output that unfortunately didn’t meet the deadline, however I am keen to continue this in the future. I am really happy with my final outcome, I think it looks very professional and is visually exciting as the audience can interact with it.

Overall I have learnt a great deal about developing code, however I am more interested in the concept behind this and am very ambitious to continue this further. This project has led me to a successful outcome and will be strong in my portfolio.


COVER My cover was created simply from visualising the data from the recordings of my voice. It literally reads the 3 letters F,M,P.

The rest is Adobe Photoshop, documented on these two pages step by step.


FMP portfolio of evidence for my final major project

Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you