Pneumatic Sound Field
Edwin van der Heide – 2006, 2007, (2012)
In the installation Pneumatic Sound Field a continuum is being created between rhythmical
perception of sound, spatial perception of sound and the perception of pitch. A horizontal
plane of pneumatic valves is used to produce wind, pressure and sound. The result is a
breathing sound environment above the audience.
Acoustical sound consists of temporary pressure changes traveling through the
atmosphere of the air around us. While loudspeakers most often use moving membranes
to produce these pressure changes in Pneumatic Sound Field compressed air is being
used to produce acoustical sound. The compressed air is connected to very fast
controllable pneumatic valves that release the pressurized air in the ‘open’ air. This results
in a controllable pressure change in the atmosphere around the valve. Because the
compressed air has always a higher pressure than the atmosphere not only sound is being
produced but also a bit of wind. The result can be seen as wind that contains sound.
Pneumatic Sound Field consists of a grid of 7 x 6 (= 42) independently controllable
discrete valves with a total width of about 10 meters and a total depth of about 20 meters.
Sound traverses this field with differing speeds, directions, and intensities. The patterns
are created in a generative way and are related to spatial movements of wind. These
patterns are following each other up or happening simultaneously resulting in different
developments, densities and spatial interferences. The audience is challenged to
determine their own position within this environment.
A bit of theory:
Our hearing has, just as our seeing, a change in perception around the frequency range of
16 to 20 Hertz. A sequence of film frames is being perceived by us as something
happening in time in stead of individual frames with jumps in between when the frame rate
is higher than about 16 frames per second. The same counts for our hearing. Repeating
vibrations with a repetition frequency higher than 16 Hz are being perceived as tones while
at a lower repetition frequency they are being perceived as individual pulses.
The spatial perception of the location of a sound source is partly determined by the
difference in arrival time of the source at the left ear and the source at the right ear. This
technique is often reversely applied in stereo reproduction where a mono sound is played
a little earlier out of the left speaker then the right speaker (or reversely) in order to
spatialize the sound at any location between the two loudspeakers.
Pneumatic Sound Field uses spatial time delays of impulses over the 42 valves. By using
different speeds, delays and repetitions a continuum is being created between the spatial
rhythmical patterns, spatial localization of sound, movement of sound and the perception
of tones and pitches.
Pneumatic Sound Field was developed by Edwin van der Heide during a project residency
at tesla-berlin e.v. and premiered at sonambiente 2006. In 2007 a new version of the
content was made. It utilizes the specific possibilities to a higher degree.