The interior design company Schweitzer commisioned Swiss based visual artist Jacqueline Rommerts, to create an interactive sound installation based on the tones of the porcelain plates she collected. Jacqueline approached Malu Peeters to make the sound design for the installation. Malu on her turn approached me and Marloes van Son to help her design a low cost stand alone hard- and software system.
The result is a box with porcelain plates mounted on top and electronics attached to the inside. Its an open source computer system that is based on a Raspberry PI. Therefor a dedicated real time LINUX kernel was developed. This made it possible to run the well known program environment Pure Data at low latency without errors. Within Pure Data the interaction and sound design was programmed.
The electonic sounds are designed in a way that the actual sounds of the porcelain plates are extended. The sound of the porcelain is picked up by four electret microphones that are mounted under the plates in the box. Besides knock-sensors, attached to the porcelain, are used as trigger signals to control the different parameters of the sound transformation and synthesis processes within Pure Data.
When the system is untouched, now and then, a wind sound subsequently altered with the hissing of an accordeon is heared. When the plates are hit by a performer different sound modules become active in a random order. Each module has its own characteristics and its own way to use the information that is coming from the porcelain. The electronic music techniques used are: 1) additive synthesis 2) modulation delay 3) sample playback speed 4) noise amplitude modulation 5) reverb.
The loudspeakers are mounted within the box and hidden behind the board to which the porcelain is attached. The sound produced by the loudspeakers indirectly comes out along the edges of the board and is mixed with the actual acoustic sound from the porcelain. In addition a mini-jack output is made so a performer can listen to the electronic sounds on headphone.
Pictures: Malu Peeters, Jacquline Rommerts, Fedde ten Berge
Audio: Fedde ten Berge, Malu Peeters
Video: Fedde ten Berge, Mark Hazeleger