For an increasing number of artists, data is becoming the raw material for creative work. Most of this has focused on visual media, but in the digital space, you can just as easily use sound. Sometimes the results are aesthetic only; sometimes they tell you something about the numbers being sonified. But either way, sound is a powerful medium.

“Weather Report” is a multi-touch instrument that makes music out of surface temperature data. The results feel a bit like US weather agency NOAA gone IDM. Fire up the multi-touch table, and you can “read” temperature data as sound. Co-creator Jordan Hochenbaum writes us:

I just wanted to turn you guys onto a multi touch interface I have been developing with a friend of mine here at California Institute of the Arts (his name is Owen Vallis). We had out first installation a couple weeks ago at Sea and Space Explorations gallery in Los Angeles and will be bringing it to Yuris Night Bay Area in April. The table is called “Brick,” and our first piece of software for it is called “Weather Report.” Were trying to use the table as a playable and meaningful musical instrument, so Weather Report uses Brick to sonify real-time U.S. surface temperature information into ambient and melodic mini-compositions. You can check out the website (we just put it up so it will constantly be updated shortly) for more information and photos, or check out our first youtube video @

Are current plans for the table is making it more stable, and getting multi-touch finger tracking working nicely.

It was custom built and uses custom software written in Max/MSP/Jitter and Reaktor, as well as Reactivision (like the ReacTable).

Hope you like it so far! We are finding out new ways people like to interact with the table in order to refine how it is used, so the more people see and use it, the more usable and interesting we will be able to make it as a musical instrument.

brick: A Multi-Touch Sonification Instrument [Project blog]

CDM will be at Yuri’s Night, the global space party, in a very big way, so expect more!

  • Just wanted to say thanks to CDM for posting about the table, and we are super excited about CDM's presence at Yuri's night! Owen and I both visit CDM often, so it's great to see the table up here 🙂

    We are working on getting more information on the website, and will hopefully be publishing some articles in the near future on the table. Feel free to email us with any questions you might have regarding our table, or if you are building your own…etc

    Well, Owen and I just wanted to give a big thanks to you guys for supporting us.

    Jordan & Owen

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  • RWO

    Reactable fake !!!

  • lematt

    it's kind of a second and quite different reactable. sound is really cool.

  • Guys, if you read the description, it uses the same library the ReacTable does, Reactivision. The whole idea of releasing that library was presumably to have other people build projects based on the technology. That's just the interface — and as here, the point is that you can substitute your own content / design.

  • Thanks a lot lematt and Peter. We purposely avoided building a tangible interface and application that would act just like the Reactable, or an FTIR screen that would just move pictures around…etc

    We love the Reactable and are lucky to have an open-source library like reacTIVision available to us… that was one of our main inspirations for this project to begin with– after seeing how cool the Reactable and other tangible and multi-touch interfaces were, we had so many ideas and things we wanted it to do. We then realized the software and hardware is easily at our fingertips, so why not just develop one ourselves?

    Anyway, we hope people see the uniqueness in the current application (and future applications) of our Brick table and using it as a creative tool and instrument.


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  • Jon

    Genius. Completely brilliant.

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