Hanging acrylic tubes containing bead-chain generate acoustic impulses that trigger and control the synthetic sounds present in this piece. Each tube has a contact microphone embedded in its cap, and when a tube is tapped or shaken the vibrations are transmitted to a computer running custom signal processing software. Several types of sound generating algorithms are employed, including granulation, wavelet synthesis, rotating variable delay, formant synthesis, spectral reverb, and additive synthesis. The contact microphones afford expressive control of these sounds by providing a wide range of amplitude values that are mapped directly to various parameters of the synthesis algorithms.

Noctiluca Scintillans, commonly known as the Sea Sparkle, is a free-floating marine-dwelling species of dinoflagellate that exhibits blue bioluminescence when disturbed. The bioluminescence occurs due to a chemical reaction that takes place in thousands of spherically shaped organelles, called scintillons, which are located throughout the cytoplasm of the organism’s single cell.

Please click here to hear how this piece sounds and see it performed in a concert setting.

This piece was exhibited in 2014 at California Institute of the Arts, and in 2015 at Canvas Gallery in San Diego.

The CalArts blog contains an entry with a bit of publicity for this installation.


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