noise machine proposal : lichen symphony

My visual inspiration comes from Cladonia cholorphaea (photo below), and similar Cladonias.

Cladonia chlorophaea

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?

LaLa

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5 thoughts on “noise machine proposal : lichen symphony

  1. —————————————
    “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?”
    ——————————————
    Lazae-

    I think this is fun because you have very specific ideas about what you want this to sound like. I was thinking about a collection of glass bottles arranges in size order – similar to a xylophone- suspended on strings like to the ‘tone bars’ brought in as a demonstration for our lab. But your bottles will have dirt in them- not full, but halfway perhaps- and each bottle will have a microphone embedded(buried) in the dirt as well as one directly in front of the opening of the glass bottle. The bottles will be struck with a stick/mallet to ring out a vibration that will be picked up by both the buried in dirt microphone as well as the one freely in front of the opening…

    -michael importico

  2. Hi Lazae,

    What about instead of photo resistors, which can be effected by people simply passing by, have the sound triggered by a touch sensitive wire?
    Here is a very simple tutorial about how to hook it up: http://www.instructables.com/id/DIY-Touch-Sensor/

    I like the idea of their being two levels of sound: one when the viewer enters and one for when the lichen are actually touched. I think one important question is how will this react to crowds of people. Rather than a single individual approaching the piece!

    This piece by Pors and Rao reminded me of the idea of a lichen colony:
    http://www.porsandrao.com/work/?workid=21

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