SonicCube, 2014 (ongoing)


SonicCube is a sound piece conceived as a translation of the sculpture Interface No. 1 (2012) into a tonal structure. The work is not yet completed. Interface No. 1 is a cube whose faces are formed by parallel struts set at right angles to one another based on an 8 × 8 grid. The struts produce a diagonal segmentation of each face. Openings between the struts reveal the cube’s interior. Beginning at one edge of the square surface of the face and extending across its full width, struts set at right angles to one another do not have the same lengths. The diagonal sequence of the struts is staggered in one direction. Nevertheless, the corners of the diagonal sequence of steps are precisely aligned with the diagonal of the square face.

Pitch, volume, duration, and timbre are acoustic parameters. SonicCube uses these parameters to represent the bilateral-diagonal structure of each face of Interface No. 1 and the interrelations between the faces. Common parlance distinguishes “high” from “low” pitch, “nearby” (high-volume) from “distant” (low-volume) sounds, and “long” from “short” durations, casting acoustic perception in spatial terms. Qualities of timbre such as “radiant” and “rough” can be matched to analog refractions of light. The different orientations of the bilateral-diagonal structures of the faces are transposed into acoustic experience in two related ways. First, the acoustic parameters are correlated with exemplary views of the bilateral-diagonal structure. Perspectival views produce foreshortening and oblique angles as visual indicators of proximity and distance, which are translated into relations of duration, pitch, and volume. The translation of the various views is governed by a conceptual schema that is flexible in its application, allowing also for acoustic rendering of visual superimpositions of different faces.

Yet it is only thanks to a second device that these translations can actually be experienced: the spatial placement of the sound sources. For SonicCube, eight directional loudspeakers are installed in the gallery in a cubic arrangement, 330 cm on each side, with each speaker corresponding to one of the vertices of Interface No. 1. Four of the speakers are set on the floor; four are suspended from the ceiling. All eight speakers are directed toward the imaginary cube’s center, 165 cm above the floor.

Interface No. 1 offers the beholder an outside perspective, since he or she cannot enter the sculpture. That is what the sound sculpture SonicCube makes possible. In the visual, outside perspective, constant (object) and variable (perception) are strictly separate; no similarly rigorous distinction applies to the acoustic, inside perspective. The directional speakers draw the listener’s attention to his or her position in space, but the acoustic translation of Interface No. 1 is independent of that position. It is based on a schematic survey of possible perspectival views, yet without imposing one of those views on the listener. In that sense, the sound sculpture reflects the various ways it might be experienced if it were a visual object.

2014 (ongoing)


8-channel sound installation

8 directional speakers in 8 corners of an imaginary cube, pointing to the center

Overall 330 x 330 x 330 cm

Photography © Jens Ziehe