You’ve seen oscilloscopes. You’ve heard sounds. You’ve seen oscilloscopes make visual representations of those sounds. You’ve maybe seen oscilloscopes used to make drawings while making sounds. And of course you’ve seen 3D models.

But you probably haven’t seen oscilloscopes used to draw 3D models that make sounds while the sounds match the oscilloscopes in a 3D sound visual extravaganza … which then becomes an entire album with software that goes with the album so you can also use the oscilloscopes to draw 3D models to make sounds.

Say what?

Okay, let’s put it another way. Imagine an Etch-a-Sketch and a laser show decided to collaborate on a glitchy electronic album, and they released a video and software to go with it.

Sort of like that.

Graz-based artist Jerobeam Fenderson is out to solve an age-old problem in the literal fusion of image and sound. Simply put by him, (and accurately), “What sounds good doesn’t necessarily look good and great images mostly just make ear-deafening noises.” Right – that.

Well, he’s been gradually building a vocabulary that both sounds and looks good – and even looks, in some cases, like a literal wireframe drawing. This all looks like a special effect, like animation set to music, but it isn’t. There is actual sonic data informing the image and visa versa. Some of the trick is to do with Lissajous-mode oscilloscope generation, which graphs the visualization of the sound on an X/Y plot – where it makes more sense to the eyes. And some of it is just a combination of painstaking sound design that simultaneously considers the visual dimension.

Watch some stunning videos:

And then you can draw mushrooms too. I’m dubbing this genre Wireframe Mushroom Oscilloscope Dubstep Glitch.

Here’s an explanation:
how it works

And some nice Pd patches to mess about with, for that free patching environment:
Pure Data

Here’s where Kickstarter comes in. Now having put together proof-of-concept for the 3D model-to-oscilloscope software, the sound patches that make nice noises that also make nice illustrations, and some music, the next phase is an entire album. There’s vinyl. There’s sound. There’s a movie.

And there’s also more software – both for 3D models and Max and Pd patches.

Sounds great to me. I also love that this isn’t just a one-off novelty: sharing the tools means people could take the same technique in other directions, and find their own voice. There’s no super-expensive product to buy, either (like a magical next-generation coffee maker that will never ship). Instead, you pay a little, and you get a record. That could be Kickstarter at its best. Essentially, you, the crowd, are the record label.

Oscilloscope Music by Jerobeam Fenderson

But it’s also important that these techniques build on the work of others – because that means others can build further. The technique of visualizing sound is something that could simply become part of the language of music, which I think is all the more reason to support the project.

If you’re into this, definitely keep going for more background:

For more of this sort of goodness, here’s Mac software built in Max/MSP that concentrates on the Lissajous visualization. It’s nice by way of comparison – the ideas are the same, but with its own aesthetic approach. And the more of this, the merrier, I say – we might have a whole scene about to emerge here, especially if there are people like me who never get tired of watching this.

VIDEO DEMONSTRATION from Audiobulb on Vimeo.

A demonstration video of Lissajous – an audio visual software module for Mac OS.
Lissajous is a complex audio/video signal generator built in Max/MSP and inspired by the work of Jules Antoine Lissajous.
The software shows sound oscillations as XY matrix functions and creates complex graphics curves. Lissajous graphically describes sound and allow observation of constantly varying signal voltage of two audio signals as function of time. Video generated by sound can be controlled in endless ways by giving to the user the possibility of a whole-new range of interactions.