Brandon Darreff – LookingOutwards – 04



With his 2016 project “re rain”, designer Kouichi Okamoto experimented with non-visual elements to invert the way we perceive the sound of rain. Fifteen speakers were placed at the base of open umbrellas to project the sound of rain hitting the top of an umbrella to the underside of the open umbrellas. In other words, the installation takes sound typically generated from a convex surface and applies it to the concave side of the same surface allowing the generated sound waves to take on the role as the rain. Just as an umbrella deflects rainwater, it redirects the sound waves throughout the room as well as vibrates from the interaction as it would if exposed to real raindrops. I admire the way Okamoto experiments with morphing such a common distinctive sound, giving it a new identity, as well as the way he gives a sort of physical presence to the sound waves. In terms of the possible algorithms behind this installation, Okamoto had to experiment with balancing the magnetic force of the speaker, the weight of the umbrella, and the pitch of the recorded sound to achieve the desired effect. By testing a range of options using these three variables, Okamoto was able to produce a simple yet elegant representation of sound art.


Video of how jacket responds to motion with sound

Machina’s MIDI Jacket (2013)

Machina’s MIDI jacket first caught my attention because it is ultimately a marriage of three things – sound, motion and art. I consider the art to be created through the dancing, as well as the sound that is created through motion. The MIDI jacket is essentially a piece of apparel that creates sounds based off your movements with the aids of an altimeter (measures the distance between your hand and the ground), a magnetometer (compass-like sensor), a gyroscope and an accelerometer (change pitch frequencies based on speed). I admire this project because the wearer is able to seamlessly create a multimedia art form simply through wearing a jacket. I also admire this project because it allows anyone to be an artist – whether they can dance or not, the wearer is able to make art. In the jacket there is an electronic board and a Bluetooth module. The electronic board handles data sensing and passes the data to the Bluetooth module, which then is passed on to a companion app. In the app the data is converted to MIDI. The algorithms that created this work are available through the website as a software development kit. The artistic sensibilities of creators Stephany Jeanaina and Antonio Machina were to “design a clothing brand people could buy, but feel as if they’re buying an electronic gadget.”  and to answer the question, “What sound do your moves create?”.


Looking Outwards 4: Carolina

For this week’s focus on sound art, I chose to explore Jono Brandel’s (jonobr1) Android experiment collaboration with artist Kimbra on her song “Carolina.” The experiment is a mobile app that essentially takes the user through an animated digital road trip. As the song plays in the background, various shapes, figures, and lines appear against a white background, creating the illusion of the user driving by. The abstract shapes and colors are triggered by specific sound aspects of the song, such as instrumentation and pitch. The user can also pinch to zoom in and out and change perspectives in the app, in order to fully experience the digital road trip to Carolina. As for the coding part of the experiment, Brandel uses Three.js in order to code the actual music visualization. While I don’t actually know anything about Three.js, I would imagine it differs from p5.js for a bigger emphasis on animated computer graphics (and more complex graphics).

Carolina (July 22, 2015)

This project stands out to me because it not only puts music into a visual art form, but also takes into account the meaning behind the song for creating that visual. The variations in shape, color, placement, and movement are not just reflections of the sounds of the music, but also take into account artistic sensibilities as to what would count as an abstract road trip through Carolina.

For more information on the project, to get the code, or download it on Google Play, click here.



In less than two centuries, visual technology has evolved from chemical capture of light in black and white photography to two dimensional and three dimensional film, and now virtual reality that provides the utmost realistic visual experience. VR has suggested to us a whole new way of experiencing the media, and further the world. Now, we can have the full visual experience of being at the Pyramid of Giza, the deepest of the Pacific and even outer space, all in the tiniest room with a phone and a pair of VR goggles.

A few years ago, Google had announced their new product called “Tilt Brush.” It is basically an electronic paint brush that can be used to draw in 3-D through Virtual Reality. The significance of Tilt Brush is that it has amalgamated the very primitive form of visual art-line drawing-with the tip of the edge technology of virtual reality, giving the lines a whole new dimension. Can this still be called a drawing? Is it a sculpture? Most of us are still not sure, but it sure has opened up doors for possibilities we did not even know we had.

There is more. Now, Tilt Brush has been augmented be addition of another sensory element-hearing. Google has merged the visual and the acoustic by adding musical notes to the path of the brush. The lines represent musical cords and melody and now we can create music not by drawing notes on lines but making visual art.

Many in modern art world had attempted to visualize music, or make visual art audible. But not much so far will get so close to being synchronized as Tilt Brush has done it. Drawing music opens new doors not only for artists but even more to lay people who are outside the profession of art or music. This includes the deaf and the blind.

It is not in the future, but today that we can ask, what does a rose sound like? or what does Beethoven’s symphony 9 look like? Can it be that there is some coherence in the beauty of visual pleasure and acoustic pleasure? All of this now is the user’s responsibility to explore.

Among plethora of uncertainties, one thing I can say for sure is,
“What a time to be alive.”

Link to the articles :

Looking Outwards 04

I really liked this display of music through the use of both repeating and unique algorithms that harmonize together in a real world fashion. Everything was controlled by the computer’s MIDI signal and was converted into either mechanical or electronic sounds. I really respect the amount of time and effort that must have gone into making this ensemble, and the author’s own creativity was really shown through the complexity and scale of this project. It introduced a new form of sound generation to me, and I think that it is an interesting and fascinating way to produce new music. I’ll definitely be keeping an eye out for more in the future!