Mar.30, 2013

In the nineteenth century Jules Lissajous, a French mathematician, invented a device in which a beam of light is bounced off a mirror attached to a vibrating tuning fork, and then reflected off a second mirror attached to a perpendicularly orientated vibrating tuning fork. If their frequencies were related by simple integer ratios, different figures would be showed onto a wall.

Fascinated by the Lissajous figures and relationship between musical and visual harmony, artists Manuela Donoso and Luisa Pereira decided to make their own.

The machine prototype: Instead of tuning forks, they used speakers. Two speakers are placed perpendicularly, with two small mirrors attached to them in X and Y axes. A laser is pointed at the first mirror, reflected by the second and finally projected on the wall. As the speakers vibrate at the frequency of the voices, a representation of the interval between them is generated.

Here are examples of the images that were generated:

The duo created an application that draws 3D Lissajous figures based on three frequencies input by the user, and renders them in different ways. They found out the ratios for major, minor and diminished chords, and plotted them. The most aurally harmonic chords yielded more visually harmonic representations.

This project, named the Harmonic Series, is a collection of mechanical devices, software, sculptures and prints. It is an ongoing project that aims to unveil a tight relationship between musical and visual harmony. Thanks to 3D printing technology, artists could make harmonics into visual and tangible works.

The two artists are currently building a web version of their application to allow people to play with frequency ratios and generate their own 3D prints and sculptures. Also, they are designing a harmonic box – a portable version of their laser device.

The Harmonic Series was shown at the ITP Winter Show.

(Images credit: Manuela Donoso and Luisa Pereira)

Posted in 3D Printing Applications


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