Sound Machine (Updated Caroline)

For my sound machine I have a two main ideas, but my primary one is a simple device for exploring sound and line in space. I want to amplify the sound of a stick-like object being dragged across objects, walls and floors in a pitch black room. The only suggestion of location will be created through the audio location queues and a single strong light attached to the end of the stick. I am interested in the combination of the simple suggestions of location and the subtle textural sounds of an object being dragged across another.


Nam June Paik’s Random Access


The beginning part of this video documentation of this audio visual performance By Claus van Bebber & Michael Vorfeld called Schallplattenkonzert und Lichtspele



Should I use a contact mic? What Microphone would be the best at picking up the subtle sounds of being dragged across a surface? 

Does it matter if the amplified sound travel with the object?

Anyone know of any similar projects?

3 thoughts on “Sound Machine (Updated Caroline)

  1. Caroline-

    I like this idea a lot as it seems to exploit the characteristics that are unique to that particular object as well as its interactions with the floor. I wonder if adding something like an accelerometer to the device would help translate the vibration into a signal, or have it modulate the sound collected from the microphone?..

    I came across this contact piezo article while investigating noise, I hope this might be useful but might be redundant..

    Using piezo contact mics right

    -Michael Importico

  2. Hi Caroline,

    The first thing I think about is the echolocation abilities of bats and dolphins. The second thing I think about is this art piece that Tino Seghal did at Documenta last year, which was basically a choreographed performance that the audience experienced in a pitch black room. One is only able to understand what was going on through sound and the physical proximity of the performers:

    As for your piece specifically, do you really need the light? I feel like if its in a dark room, even a single light could reveal more than you may want.

    Keith Lafuente

  3. Hi Caroline,

    I know we talked about different performance modes (live vs. documentation) and speaker setups. I feel like this would be most effective live, with the speaker moving in space, attached to the object, as you drag it. If you could effectively deal with the technical challenges, it seems like this is your best option for achieving the sonic line you are after. (Although, on re-reading, I’m not sure if you want this sense of space? I think it would be nice. You may or may not really need the light — might be worth trying in both ways.) I do think a contact mic is your best bet.


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