Stellar is an interactive installation by sound artist Francesco Fabris, which aims to create a sonic representation of stars and constellations through a dedicated interface.
The project has been developed using two Arduino Uno, LeapMotion and Max7 software managing data of more than 300 stars and 44 constellations, stored from the open-source software Stellarium, and coded to interact with the robotic arms.
One Arduino Uno board controls four servo motors and a second one controls the led stripes. The motors are controlled with two LeapMotion but since LeapMotion doesn’t support two devices on one computer, he used two miniMac connected through an Ethernet network.
Since there’s no sound in space, Francesco wanted to conceptualize a link between electromagnetic and sound waves to create a minimalistic, interactive device which would allow visitors to learn about specific stars through sound information:
The base of the system is a cylindrical structure, on top of which are displayed the most important constellations of the northern sky. Above this representation are two robotic arms. When the tip of one of the arms aligns with a star, information on the selected star is transformed into simple sine waves, changing the colour the star emanates.
Two players can use the system at the same time, by moving their right hands over the two black, circular sensors. This allows them to move the robotic arm both horizontally and vertically.
The data analyzed for each star are: temperature (color index: red star = old and cold, blue star = hot and young), brightness (as seen from Earth), distance (from Earth) respectively transformed into: frequency (Hz), amplitude (dB), duration (ms).
The colder the star, the lower the pitch; the brighter it appears to us from Earth, the louder the sound; the further from Earth, the longer the duration.
For example, a bright, red star four thousands light years from the Earth would generate a low frequency, loud and long sound. A blue star which is closer to the Earth would generate a high frequency, weaker and shorter sound.
The background drone-sound is white noise (which is a combination of all frequencies, the opposite of space-silence). When a constellation is triggered, the number representing its area (squared degrees), becomes the cutoff frequency of a low-pass filter for the noise signal. In this way, larger constellations will gradually increase their frequency.
Don’t miss the “Making of” video:
Stellar has been produced with the support of the DE.MO./MOVIN’UP I Session 2015 project, and promoted by the Ministry of Cultural Heritage & Activities & Tourism, General Directorate for Contemporary Art, Architecture and Urban Suburbs and GAI – Association for the Circuit of the Young Italian Artists.