I've become very fascinated with the idea of digital destruction through a physical medium. There was PBS video on youtube How Does Glitchy Art Show Us Broken Is Beautiful?

Example Pieces:

Cultural Brazilian sound chair: shows this idea with sound and how a sound of brazil influence the form.

Digital cabinet. Shows a split between the classical baroque cabinetry and new digital destruction.


What are the techniques to edit these typical mediums from a sound wave? Can anyone list out some, tools + process to achieving these kind of results?

I can already take beautiful photography, I 3d render beautiful products and I can shoot video like a mofo. I know this is a really wonky question but any tips or trick will help me in my research.


So is the question essentially how to visualise sound? If so the process is essentially:

  1. Decide what you want to achieve (something abstract like these music-based sculptures? Something with practical useful value? Something with a dual purpose?)
  2. Decide which sound variables (frequency, magnitude, etc) are most useful to that goal - will involve some research, direct questions to technical places like Audio-Video Production Stack Exchange
  3. Find a way of turning your sound source into digital data of the target variables - a technical question probably better asked at Audio-Video Production Stack Exchange
  4. Make the thing. This could be literally anything from a chart to a 3D printing extravaganza.

You'll find useful stuff by searching for generative art based on sound. Here's a good intro to generative art, including similar recommended tools to the above. It also links to a couple of projects based on sound:

As you'll see, it's all about customising some kind of script-based tool to interpret a stream of data (audio data over time) in a way that suits the needs of your project.

Also look into data visualisations based on audio. Here's some examples based (loosely...) on audio from popular films that has an aim of raising a smile of recognition rather than being an analysis tool...

enter image description here

(Jurassic Park)

Here's an image of some abstract sculptures based on alt rock albums, just because.

enter image description here

In this particular case, the making process happened to look like this:

enter image description here

It's extremely varied. The common components are: clear goal, data collection, data processing, then output, which can be literally anything.

Even then, there are exceptions. Here's an example that involves no code at all:

enter image description here

They're made by stretching a balloon over a speaker, then dropping paint in the center, before blasting it with a single sharp note. The paint splashes, and a camera set on what looks like a gravity ride spins around the speaker, snapping away at 5,400 frames a second.

It's all about assembling a mechanism - probably uniquely built, arranged or coded for the project - to make variables in the sound sculpt the final output - then finish it by hand.

  • Yeah the real problem is how to I take a sound byte and influence say a photoshop image? Things like this need automation I believe. I've reposted this question on the audio and video stack. I believe this has a place on this one too. Jul 31 '13 at 11:33
  • That would require a tool that reads external data sources - I'm not aware of anything that does this in Photoshop. You could make something using Photoshop scripting, but you'd be starting from scratch. I'd personally recommend starting with something like Processing or D3 that is designed for data visualisation or generative art, then transfer to Photoshop for finishing touches. Jul 31 '13 at 11:43
  • @MatthewHarwood I'd say this is almost a programming question...how do use data (sound) to manipulate other data (photo).
    – DA01
    Jul 31 '13 at 14:54
  • The so-called digital cabinet actually looks like a photo of a cabinet which has been moved during the scanning process. If I hit "scan" on a xerox or a flatbed scanner, and move the item being scanned while the scan wand is moving, I will have images which exhibit the same features.
    – horatio
    Jul 31 '13 at 21:51

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.