Reflection II from Datdatdat / A. N. Fischer on Vimeo.

Can a sound be a sculpture? While using a familiar technique – mapping frequency energies via a FFT (Fast Fourier Transform) analysis – Reflection has a transformative impact on the perception of a sound by translating it into three-dimensional, physical form. I’d been struck by this work before, but only just saw this documentation video, which does a nice job of conveying what the piece is about.

Reflection II is an augmented sound data sculpture, which was inspired by and derived from the musical piece of the same title by Frans de Waard. The sculpture was commissioned by the 5 Days Off Festival in Amsterdam for the »Frozen« exhibition, curated by Marius Watz ( ). Reflection is characterized by 12 musical motives, which appear in an almost linear succession. To show the individual makeup of the motives, they were divided into the smallest distinctive parts. An FFT frequency spectrum analysis was performed on these audio clips. The resulting intensity values were arranged in a coordinate system consisting of frequency and time. Higher intensity values for a given frequency at a given time resulted in an elevation of the generated mesh. This produced a heightfield representing the spectral structure of the music. Further optimizations like adaptive filtering and logarithmic scaling of the values were performed to better represent the human way of hearing. The meshes created in this fashion were then arranged horizontally on two conjoined tracks. The final sculpture was created with a CNC Milling Machine.
The installation consists of the sculpture and a projector mounted over it. The room is dark and silent. When the music starts playing, the sculpture gradually reveals itself over the duration of the musical piece. Each sample is visualized by a scanline passing over it… when it is being referred to in the music. Each time the scanner passes a motif, it gradually receives more light, where the amount is defined by the number of occurrences in the song.

The sculpture is a collaboration between Benjamin Maus and Andreas Nicolas Fischer

I’d love to see other sculptural visions that use other models, even musical analysis in place of strictly acoustical/FFT analysis. There is something about seeing this in physical form. The example above has an unusual twist on that idea, as well – while it uses the common FFT analysis, it manipulates the results of that model by using as an input a structured musical motive.

Likewise, as many of us work with motion, there are unique possibilities in translating something that’s time-based (like a visual performance) into something frozen in time but translated in volume.

  • TweakingKnobs

    Pretty cool ,

    the only thing i dont like , is that atmosphere they alsway do to try to be arty.

    as i said is pretty cool but i really dont like thistype of atmosphere like so dramatic , or trying to be dramatic.

    is like in some new theater or contemporary dance.

    why not use nice or cool music,

    yes is is nice and cool , but im a bit fed up with this type of "atmosphere"

    it seems just by having this atmosphere is more artistic.

    But !

    The whole thing is pretty cool , has lots of merit, lots of work , is a "new" concept and yeah is really cool.

  • Jaymis Loveday

    I got the material sample kit from Shapeways recently. It really is awesome the fidelity and materials that 3D printing can give us even now. Add to that the fact that I've been modeling my new house in Google Sketchup… I can see 3D printing becoming a more prominent part of my life Real Soon Now.

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  • m9dfukc

    the links to and are booth pointing to the homepage of marius. … seems there got something wrong while copying over.

  • kconnor9000

    So a physical sculpture of a frequency domain representation of a music signal == high art, and a physical sculpture of a time domain representation of a music signal ==

    vinyl record.

    analog tape.

    check out some groovy microphotographs.

    We have to fight this Frequency Domain snobbery! Man the barricades!

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