My visual inspiration comes from Cladonia cholorphaea (photo below), and similar Cladonias.
Photo credit : Richard Droker’s website : http://www.waysofenlichenment.net
I have researched if lichens make any kind of sound that can be recorded or emulated, but no luck on that front. I will therefore imagine the sounds a lichen symphony might make. As stated in my original post, my first instinct was the sound of blowing over the top of a glass. While this will remain one element, I am interested to create a more layered/full noise, as follows…
low tones: an earthy, bass rumble/growl (more sexy than sinister)
mid tones: the sound of blowing/whistling over the opening of a glass bottle
high tones: bell-esque or xylophone-esque tinkling
Q: Any suggestions for achieving these sounds? Perhaps the low and mid tones could be pre-mixed samples, and maybe the high tone ‘tinkling’ could be achieved physically (in real time) with tiny motors operating tiny metallic objects?
Initially, I thought I wanted this lichen symphony machine to be miniature scale, but I am now less inclined to create a faithful interpretation of Cladonia cholorphaea. I would like each of the lichen ‘horns’ to be approximately one foot in length, with between five to seven horns total. (It will be great if I am able to construct more, but I think this might be overly ambitious, given the timeframe.) I envision the lichen horns ‘growing’ out of a wall, at human eye level.
Q: How would encountering a larger-than-life lichen colony in a domestic space make you feel?
I am thinking the low tones can be triggered by an IR sensor, so that when a visitor approaches the piece, the earthy growl will be audible. I envision the IR sensor being embedded into the base section, where the bottom of the horns meet the wall. This is also approximately the position from which the sound should emanate. Abby suggested a surface transducer, and I think this is a great idea.
Q: Any other ideas for sensor activation and/or audio output?
A more visitor-interactive experience will trigger the mid and high tones. Embedded within each lichen horn will be a photoresistor and a small speaker. I am imagining the piece installed in a dim space, lit from above. When a visitor puts her/his hand over the mouth of a horn, light will be blocked and the corresponding photoresistor will then execute the mid tones (immediately) and high tones (on a slight delay). I would like the mid tones to emanate from the horn mouths, but the high tones to be tinkling above/around a visitor’s head.
I recently viewed Edgar Choueiri’s introduction to 3D sound from the 3D3A Lab at Princeton University: http://www.princeton.edu/3D3A/
Q: Is the 3D tinkling possible to achieve? More importantly, is this doable for someone with my low-level of technical savy?