Nebraska Science God Shows You How To Draw Music With Water

Nebraska science god Aaron ALAI, an expert in the theoretical side of wildlife ecology, demonstrates Stochasticity, a music installation that lets you draw musical notes with water:

The name of the piece is called Stochasticity. I built it to demonstrate the randomness that humans introduce into very precise systems.

When someone uses my art piece they are directly interacting with a very precise electronic tool. It produces musical tones based on the amount of resistance sensed in trails of water. The resistance changes unpredictably, and thus this is where the variability in the system arises from. The water evaporates, the user will flex their muscles, their hearts will pump blood at varying rates, and the conductivity of their skin will change. All of these variables change the placement of the notes in the water and make the system unreliable. I found it interesting that even though imperfect animals such as ourselves are plagued with randomness, we are capable of producing reliable highly precise tools that we can indirectly interact with.

I have included it here on my webpage because it fits within my philosophy rather well. The concept of resistance is commonly explained with analogous personal experiences, a common experience involves turning on a water faucet, wider openings allow more water to flow through and more water means more electricity. My art piece bridges the gap between personal experiences and the complexity of resistance. The user can visually see themselves changing the resistance of the electronic system while receiving an instantaneous auditory response. They become the resistor and can manipulate that variable in a familiar way.

It’s fascinating as an art installation – but can you imagine larger, multi-player temporary electronic instruments – made of water?

2 thoughts on “Nebraska Science God Shows You How To Draw Music With Water

  1. I like the idea of this, though it's kinda simplistic. I've seen something very similar before, using the lead in pencil to draw longer/shorter lines to vary resistance. Something about it makes me think of a theremin, because it's not got a "concrete" controller, and instead relies on how far your hand is from something (though the mechanisms are very different of course :P) or maybe a stylophone, which I assume works in a similar way.

    I think the concept could be expanded- anyone out there capable of producing a sponge-to-MIDI interface? 😀

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