Pluvial is a tactile sonic architecture and 80-channel spatial instrument. It consists of custom made digitally controlled drums, that make use of the string drum principle employing the kinetic actuator and shape memory alloy nitinol as instrumental wire.

Balancing in a large cloud-like mobile, the suspended drums tap out rhythms, and rise and drop on the heat-sensitive nitinol wires, according to the data they are fed of the density and frequency of ocean rainfall. Pluvial  invites the listening body to enter and follow its acoustic and tactile dr/tones and rhythms.

Pluvial acoustically simulates and evokes rainy conditions: be it a singular rainfall or the continuing rains of a specific season, a climate of variable length or a geological episode characterized by high precipitation. Rain and its properties resemble white noise, which is modulated by the drops size and the amount/intensity of precipitation. Which again is filtered by the differing surroundings struck by the falling drops.

Analog to this phenomenon, the drums are driven by randomized on-off voltage pulses. The pulse widths and pauses of these white-noise-like signals are modulated with the data of changing droplet size and intensity of precipitation recorded over long periods of time on many research vessels throughout the different oceans of our planet.

The data driven modulation creates a sonic environment that evolves in time and space because the physical body of the drum cloud with its varying resonant frequencies and harmonics of the different resonant tubes act as a set of random band pass filters – defined by tube length, width and material and by the varying  tension of the drum skin.

Furthermore the drums are arranged such that local acoustic signal patterns appear: the atmosphere is noisy and precise at the same time. Based on the kinetic quality of the nitinol wire, each drum is equipped with an analog feedback switch. Each time the brass pendulum touches the circular brass plate attached to the lower end of the nitinol string, the circuit is interrupted allowing the sonic environment to further modulate itself.

The sonic organism connects to the experience of being out in the weathers, evoking the nearness and perceptual openness when you are exposed and unprotected. Its sounds and behavior evoke the associative quality of the noise of rain that can trigger dream-like journeys and mind wandering.

Installation Work / 2018

aluminum, tin, brass, nitinol, silicon, strings, cable ties, custom-made hard- and software

in close collaboration with Thom Laepple

Thorsten Schumm and Simon Stellmer, research project nuClock

Part of the research project “Rhythmic Textures”, funded by Einstein Foundation Berlin
Realized with the Graduate School at the Berlin University of Arts.

supported by the SMArt® Steps Program of Dynalloy.Inc