Tag Archives: QI

Cymatics – Visualising sound, the Patterns of Nature

Following on from my last post ‘Kinetic Typography and Synesthesia in Art and Design’, I’m venturing a little further into the world of sound visualisation by looking at Cymatics – the fascinating and beautiful study of the patterns created by sound vibrations. I first came across Cymatics at the fantastic ‘Shadow Catchers‘ exhibition at the V&A Museum, where (camera-less) photographic artist Susan Derges exhibited her 1985 series “Chladni Figures”- a series of photograms (camera less photographs) produced using a process pioneered by Ernst Chladni, in which photographic emulsion sprinkled with carborundum powder is exposed to sound waves at different frequencies. The vibrations of the frequencies creates intriguing, natural symmetrical patterns which are captured in a still image by the photogram.

Evan Grant‘s brilliant TED talk ‘Making Sound Visible Through Cymatics’  is a concise yet deeply informative insight into Cymatics, discussing both practical uses and artistic qualities. Evan was the organiser of the TEDx Education Revolution which I spoke at in September and I was lucky enough to be coached by him to prepare me for my talk. He’s a really great and guy and his company, Seeper, an Arts and Technology Collective who specialise in interactive design, are always throwing themselves into exciting and adventurous new tasks in order to “capture the essence of experience”. Up to the minute with technology and design, they do some truly “wow” things, it’s well worth checking out what they’re up to.

Visual representations of sound can be seen in other media too, for example, take a look at this slo-mo footage of a water droplet at 100hz-

Or this QI feature showing the effects of putting a corn flower and water mixture in a speaker cone, quite incredible!

So, from beautiful symmetrical patterns, to strange wriggly Morph-like substance, these experiments really go to show that sound can intrigue more than one sense.

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