Wave Cave – Meason Wiley & Amber Lepley
NODE is an immersive interactive real-time installation that focuses on visualizing sound waves through a liquid medium, in this case, water. When sound is passed through a physical excitatory medium such as water, the relationships between minimum and maximum displacement are made visible and complex patterns emerge. This installation utilizes four large white birch plywood cubes set up in a row. Embedded inside each cube is a 10” subwoofer and amplifier. The top section of each cube is surrounded in 1/8” white acrylic which holds 2” of water. Hidden within grooves of the plywood just below the acrylic are rows of white LEDs. Additionally, there are two ultrasonic sensors embedded on the outside of each cube, one on either side. Box #1 contains an Arduino Mega 2560 Micro-controller that handles the sensor data and controls both the LEDs and the amplitude of the sound waves.
When a visitor approaches a cube, the cube activates and will begin generating a low frequency waveform. As the sound fades in, complex fractal patterns start to form in the liquid. The person’s distance from the box dictates the frequency and harmonics of the sound, which, in turn, effects the patterns in the water. If the person gets closer to the box, the sine wave morphs into a more complex waveform and starts to self-modulate. The cubes are all linked together, so if another person stands in front of a different cube, both cubes start modulating each other. This is conceptually linked to the use of “operators” in FM Synthesis. Each cube functions as an operator and can modify another based on how many people are in the space. The more people in the space, the more active and complex the sound and visual patterns. Additional sound comes from 8 custom-made satellite LED/speakers which gives the viewer an audio range interpretation of the low frequency sounds being created by the subwoofers. All of the sounds will be generated using custom-built software.
The purpose of this installation is to show clear relationships between acoustic signals and the visible patterns being created. We typically view sound in very limited ways, primarily with graphing/signal analysis software that is only meant to be “representative”. This piece allows us to view what sound actually looks like and get a sense of the complexity of physical and mathematical relationships that are fundamental in nature.
Meason Wiley is a teacher, musician, multi-media artist, and fabricator based out of Austin + Los Angeles. He is currently pursuing his MFA in Music Technology at CalArts under the guidance of Ajay Kapur. Meason is also an Associate Professor of Music Technology at Austin Community College. His current interests include digital fabrication, generative + procedural art, physical computing, robotics, sound and data visualization, and the sonification of natural phenomenon.
He has lectured and presented work at NMASS (Austin), California Institute of the Arts, Church of the Friendly Ghost (Austin), Digital Arts Expo (CalArts – 2014), NIME Conference (Carnegie Melon University – 2009, Louisiana State University – 2015), ICMC (New York University – 2010), Dubspot/Ableton (Los Angeles), Walt Disney Theatre/REDCAT (Los Angeles), Ballet Austin, Austin Film Festival, SXSW, and Housecore Horror Film Festival (Austin) among others.
His work has been featured in both print and online publications including New Instruments for Musical Expression (NIME), International Computer Music Association (ICMC), Computer Music Journal (CMJ), Apple, Wired, Sonic State, Synthtopia, Pitchfork, Synthwise, C-Net, Attack of the Show, Uncut (England), Create Digital Music, the Austin Chronicle, the Austin American Statesman, the LA Times, and LA Weekly.
Amber Lepley is a theatrical engineer and instillation artist currently based out of Los Angles. Graduating this May with her MFA in Technical Direction under the guidance of Michael Darling and Paul DiPietro, she received her BFA in Theatrical Design and Production from Point Park University in 2012. Amber is currently working Thinkwell Group as a Technical Draftsman.
Her current artistic work is focused on digital fabrication, interactive sound installation, and the visualization of sound. She enjoys the art of machinery, and making art with industrial look and feel. Before CalArts Amber has worked with several theatre companies including the Pittsburgh Rep, Pittsburgh Irish Classical Theatre, Dorset Theatre Festival, and Brevard Music Center.
Amber has served as a curator in the Walt Disney Modular Theatre and Lobby since 2013.