Seeing Sound in Grains of Sand

March 12, 2013 | Andy Cush

The options for visualizing sound are manifold, but there’s something appealing about the analog physicality of this piece from Italian art collective CaCO3. The work, entitled 80 mesh – la forma del suono (the shape of sound), uses three metal plates covered in fine sand, onto which the frequencies from three vintage electronic instruments called Ondes Martenots are mapped. As the plates vibrate along with the music’s frequencies, the sand dances and moves, creating beautiful and ever-changing patterns. Adding to the integration of it all, the choice of pitches was dictated by the resonant frequencies of the plates themselves.

The piece 15 minutes long, but well worth a watch and listen if you have the time. Even if you’re just skipping around, the effect of the patterns is mesmerizing.