Submission 1


Optical Audio Explorations – Submission 1

Team: Ian Hynd, Andreas Miranda, Martha Winther, Fiona Keenan, Jim Pritchard, Raz Ullah, Marie-Claude Codsi.

Project Supervisor: Dr Sean Williams


Project Introduction and Concept

Our aim for this project is to aesthetically emphasize the physical connection between sound and light in the form of an interactive installation.  This shall take the form of an ensemble of interconnected mechanical oscillators controlled by light energy, and tuned by a body of rotating fans. Our creative task consists of tapping into the interaction between the various sonic constituents of our audiovisual ensemble to create a unique insight into the stimulating characteristics of optical audio in our regular environment. The sounds that we present emerge from light sources that everybody deals with in everyday life. We want this installation to raise awareness on the concealed sonic characters of light, and give the spectator the chance to explore this first handedly.


Audio Experiments  

Our installation will be based on a series of experiments we undertook with photoresistor circuits to generate audio.

1. A simple potential divider circuit, which converts the variable voltage from a photoresistor and 10K resistor into an audio signal.

2. Replacing the 10K resistor in circuit 1 with a 12V computer fan. The fan is powered by the intensity of light on the photoresistor, while at the same time modulating the output current, creating an oscillator effect.



3. A three-channel RGB recorder, which incorporates three circuit elements (see 1 above) on the same battery power, and filtering each with a red, green and blue coloured gel to filter what is recorded.

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We have settled on the computer fan unit as the basis of our installation, as it both generates interesting audio and visual effects. Our mono circuit and three-channel recorder enable us to collect source material for audio playback as part of the installation. We hope to build a complex soundworld from a palette of light sources – from simple LED lights to computer screens, from street lights to flourescent tubes.

Here is a compilation of our experiments with the various sources:

While the audio will consist of live and recorded sources, the light elements to trigger and modulate the fan units will in some way be given over to the visitor, making the installation interactive. We feel this will be the most rewarding form of interaction. We have discussed using the following elements:

  • Coloured light, laser or mirror elements (kalidescope).
  • Arduino control of fans or video.
  • Fans spinning slotted discs.
  • Interaction in the form of a punchcard to disturb light, or using the LCD screen from visitors’ mobile phones as a light source.

Key Challenges

  • Isolating the installation from any unwanted light to control its audio output.
  • How to make the light element interactive for visitors to the installation.
  • Combining recorded sources and live sources of sounds.
  • Developing the elements involved into a fully integrated and inviting aesthetic for the final installation.


Our interactive installation will be featured at Alison House in G11 on the 2nd and 3rd of April. The venue has already been booked. We have decided to present our project in Alison House as it will be easier to invite students and staff members to come and take a look at our installation.


For this DMSP project, we have decided to meet every Wednesday in G11 in Alison House at 11am. We have already started working on the installation (as demonstrated in the short video). Here is the estimated timeline of how we are going to proceed:

  • February – 13th March: We will finish to build the installation. As there are many components to this project, we will be divided into smaller groups to work on different aspects of the project. Our weekly meetings will enable us to make sure that the workload has been divided equally and that all the components are coming along. 
  • Week of March 10th: We will design a poster and come up with a name for the installation (for advertisement). We will also take pictures of our installation for advertisement purposes but moreover to show the health and safety person (later on in March). 
  • Week of March 17th: We will start to advertise the event, mostly by putting up some posters across the campus. We might consider sending an email to the students from the music department to promote the event. 
  • March 27th: We will meet in G11 and figure out how we are going to manage the space and set up the installation. We will also try to fix a meeting with the health and safety person responsible of Alison House to make sure that our installation does not contravene any regulations.
  • March 28th: Preview morning with feedback. 
  • April 2nd & 3rd: Installation in G11 at Alison House. We will meet early in the morning to set up the installation. The event will take place throughout both days. There should always be at least two to three team members present to explain how the installation works.


The event is going to be filmed. As our installation will be presented on two subsequent days, we will not film for the entire duration of the event, but rather shoot at specific moments whenever people are interacting with the installation.