Final Project – Non-Newtonian Composition

Group members/Roles: Aditi Sarkar and Becca Epstein as Tutors, Integrators, Designers and Scribes


Our project explores the properties of non-Newtonian fluids, specifically oobleck. We created a theater and manipulated the stage to see the different forms and motions it created in the oobleck. Hand gestures vary the vibrations and act as conductors to the performance. Ideally a mechanism for adding color based on gesture would have been included as well, but it was added manually to track the movement of the oobleck.


Fabrication Notes

After experimenting with the oobleck at different frequencies, we found that it “danced” the most at very low frequencies (20-40Hz). We used a subwoofer speaker so that we could get the most movement output at these frequencies. We fastened a tin box lid to the mouth of the speaker with a single screw through the center of both. The outer structure was made with acrylic and wooden dowels, with a stocking stretched across the top to allow for colored powder to drift down.

Technical Notes

Our project used a subwoofer, amplifier, and a Leap Motion sensor. We used the gesture data from the Leap Motion through PureData to control the frequency and amplitude of the speakers, and a leapmotion app called ManosOSC  ( to get xyz coordinates on each finger joint. Only finger controlled frequency and amplitude in this iteration, but ideally we would have richer control with more natural/conductor like gestures. We actually found a Leap Motion pd external that calculates useful gesture data apart from just spatial coordinates at, but didn’t have enough time to explore it. Our pure data file can be found here:


Future Iterations

A future iteration of this project could include several speakers with oobleck dancing from stage to stage, with more complex gestures from the conductor. We would like to explore the full capabilities of the Leap Motion  – this version only had movement in the xy plane dictating frequency and amplitude. Although we read pinching and slamming gestures, we didn’t get to map them to other parts of the performance. We would also like to add a controlled mechanism for releasing color into the oobleck.