Space Mixer (sound installation)

Space Mixer

Space Mixer is a sound installation art piece which consists of an interactive system that established by Arduino board and a few ultra sonic sensors also a few LED light bulbs. The name is taken in a result of a mystic soundscape would be created by the installation if there is an interaction between the audience and the work itself. The art piece would mainly looks like a planet floating in universe and displaying a mysterious feeling as the main material is transparent plastic board.

In basic science approach, sound is the energy that must be transited through a physical media such as air particles or liquid or even objects. However, what would the result be if there is a sound recorder or a sonic mixer recording the atmosphere in the area near a planet ? The main idea of the installation is based on this imagination. Actually the art piece will keep emitting a sonic signal steadily in a normal situation ( no interaction with the sensors), whenever there is a interfere to the piece (hand movement towards the ultra sonic sensor), a gradually changing of the sonic signal will be occurred. Basically the change is the difference of volume levels. The interesting part is there are a few layers of sonic signal would be emitted, hence, different soundscape would be created as there is a mixture of different sound layers with independent amplitude in every single second. Meanwhile, each audience can interact with this installation to create their own soundscape mixture by moving their hands towards or backwards the piece. This is also a reason the piece is named mixer.

The main difference between a traditional music composing process and alternative soundscape creation by electronic devices is, the sonic signal emitted by electronic devices are more abstractive and experimental than regular music notes. An ordinary music composition is established by a series of sound with certain pitches. In addition, a musical piece would be a lot of well arranged music notes. On the other hand, the sonic signals generated by electronic device is all automatically. They may not oriented very well in order to create a specific soundscape usually. This is also an another reason why an interactive composing sound installation is interesting as the final form of the music piece consists of a lot of random possibilities.

The work is initiated with a number of research as a rich scientific background is needed. At the very beginning, a lot of research about sound installation is did.


This is the work that inspired me the most.

It is titled as ‘Floating Music’ by a male Artist called Brendan O’ Connor. In his setup, the music is basically produced by the sense of motion from eight balloons. When the balloons are moved by people, a sound will be emitted which is the motion relevant. I think the most interesting part is the process of interaction within the installation and audience. By only a little gesture, every audience can control the feeling of emitting sound. And that’s why my work also have that feature for audience to participate.

This is an another work that quite similar to my idea specially this part :

The people in the video clip is showing how to make some noise (sound texture) by a up and down gesture with his hands.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.17.31 AM

The main purpose of creating an interactive artwork is that I hope the audience can experience a composing process whom has no any musical training or musical learning before.

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 2.26.35 AM

A wonderful piece titled “Reactable” from Italy. There is an element I like very much and hope it can be involved in my work is controlling the sound by physical gestures.Not only up or down as I mentioned in the previous reference, but also different motion like rotation, displacement to activate several functions in a composing process. The main concept is there are lots of plastic boxes representing different types of functions. Some are melodic, some are rhythmic and some are special effects like delay, reverberation or looping. The performer try to put a series of boxes on a special table to create a circuit of music element by interaction between the table and the boxes. Such as create a fast disco music via put a melody block and a rhythm block in series and add a looping block in parallel. Rotate the block can either speed up the tempo and slow down down the tempo in clockwise and anti-clockwise. This piece consists of a lot of combination. I think I can take the control method as a reference but simplify into only one block or two blocks.

This is a reference about the soundscape would be appeared in my work hopefully.

When audience interact with my installation, the soundscape could be changed by adding some special effect like tremolo, analog delay, vibrato, etc.

As for the aesthetic aspect, this is a very similar reference for my ideal work. 

Screen Shot 2015-03-17 at 12.25.10 PM

After a wild range of research that related to the inspiration of the work, followed by an idea development process.

First Idea 

Basically I would like to re-think my art piece and give an appropriate name to it. As the idea I mentioned in the phrase 3 proposal before, my installation would be an object that emits sound at the very first beginning. If there is an interaction with the sensors by the audience, the soundscapes would be giving out a little bit changing.

This is the first draft of my installation,


In my previous planing , the work consists of a cubic plastic box that contain an Arduino system in order to interact with the audience. In addition, there would be a pair of little power output speaker. The speaker is a tool for showing how does the soundscapes changed if there is an interaction between the piece and audience.

The basic concept of my very first idea is using static electricity to slightly increase the current of the circuit of the setup. In a result of the current changing, the frequency of the sound that playing in the installation would be slightly changed. Hence, the audience can create their own experience of adding effects to an ordinary sound track such as twisting the tone or distorting the phrases of a sound wave.

Why banned

There is a little bit problem that I discovered and made me have to be banned this idea,

1) It is hard to hear the difference between after and before the audience add some static electricity to the art piece.

2) A significant change is very hard to occur by just adding a few amount of static electricity into a circuit.

3) It has a potential problem if the audience contact the wire by their own as a high voltage would be suddenly occurred by earthing especially when some audience have no sense about physics science.

4) A pair of speaker are likely to play in a closed place rather than a open area. As the emitting quality of sound would be very poor.

As the above reasons mentioned , I would like to give a big change to my work in order to lower the potential problem and also make it more visual worthy.

5) The look of the installation should also modify a little bit. For example, a theme should be applied on the work hence the look and feel should also be enhanced.


After the first time analysis, I discovered a few potential problems and difficulties in my first draft of the WORK. Therefore, I started to revise the WORK in various perspectives.

First and foremost, I should give my work a title. As this work is an sound installation work, I want to create an mystic atmosphere by different changes to the sound projection.

Brainstorming for the title :

Mystic–>dark/unknown/UNIVERSE/space/black hole/magic/closed/covered/


Mystic and sound are the two main categories that I want to involved in my art piece, therefore, I just take these two words as a center and generated a large number of keywords by using brainstorm. Finally, I decided to call it “Space Mixer” as it will emit a soundscape that consists of different layers tracks. Whenever  an audience interact with the sensors from the installation, the volume level of different sound layers will increase / or decrease independently.

As for the look, I am going to build my installation model like a planet. The whole structure is established by 3mm plastic board with slotted system. In addition, the centre of the piece is a flat plate that the arduino system can be settled there.

Here are some references :

discball 13900

This might be one of the possible structures:


Based on the above references, I revised my design of the look. I tried to use more curves and more layers in order to create the feeling of mystery. Hence, I am going to use plastic board as my major materials as it has a high transparency of light. When there is a signal change received by the sensors, the amplitude of light emitted will be also changed. The following are the new sketches of my work :

DSC_0222 DSC_0223

As for the core part, there would be an Arduino system. As I mentioned before, the system consists of an Arduino board and a few ultra sonic sensors. Therefore, I made a prototype for the testing.


And here is a video of testing.

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