hEAR

You Are What You Are Sensing

hEAR is a site-specific sound installation consisting of multiple handmade speakers on canvases playing a computer-generated stereo soundscape. Its concept emerges from my response to a lifetime sensitivity to high frequency sound. This ‘excessive hearing’ triggers physiologic and emotional feelings - anxiety, timidity, need to escape - which led to the form of this project as an artistic metaphor of  “my fear” and “my courage to face it.” Paper

Time: Feburary - May, 2019
Elements: Handmade Speakers, Computer-generated Stereo Subtle Sound, Stretched Canvas, Physical Vibration Medium: Enameled Magnetic Copper Wires, Super Strong Magnets, Mono Amplifiers, Stretched Canvas, MDF board
Dimension:12x24 inches and 24x36 inches
Length: 6’24’’









Scope


The work is suspended in a corner between two walls and lighted to create sharp drop shadows of its form. There are two stretched canvases placed on each wall, one is portrait (12x24 inches) and one is landscape (24x36 inches) outlining the work. As viewers navigate themselves to the corner, they are able to look at the delicate vibrating wire while listening to the segmental soundscape.

hEAR creates an aesthetics of fragility and sensibility between geometric sculpture and drawing. The sound is almost absent in the space. It works like sonic dust or environmental noise, touching the edge of auditory perception.




Scenario








Approach


The work is suspended in a corner between two walls and lighted to create sharp drop shadows of its form. There are two stretched canvas placed on each wall, one is portrait (12x24 inches) and one is landscape (24x36 inches) outlining the work. Intentionally installed on and below average ear level, the artwork creates an aesthetic experience under physical constraint.

System Diagram





Sonic Elements


I am surprised by the effect that the speakers are low-fidelity inherently which brings electricity buzzes and hiss. The fragility and fragment are well translated through the shape, physical property and materiality of the copper wires in magnetic field, which makes the wires vibrate and create very subtle and dynamic sound by themselves. Most of the sounds can be described as “sonic dust” and “electricity flows” which are meaningless and void. Some of the natural sounds are processed by the speakers, and turns to something artificial. Some sounds are very pure tones.








Fabrication


Generally, a loudspeaker requires more parts than DIY speakers to produce better and louder sound. And what is needed for a DIY speaker:

  1. Voice coil (copper wire)
  2. Magnet.

The major materials to produce the body of DIY speakers are enameled magnetic copper wires and super strong magnets. I connected the voice coil to amplifier and used a MP3 player to input the sound for stability and flexibility. Considering safety, the magnets are placed in foam-wrapped boxes and attached to the back wood board. I found it critically hard to build a clean and well-shaped speakers because of the metal’s ductile quality. Thus, I 3D-printed the speaker’s basic structure and wind wires on this structure to keep the wires neat and tidy. The copper wires are painted and sealed in black.Then they are stitched on a canvas to keep the structure and shape.





Mark