List of Physical Visualizations
and Related Artifacts

2014 – Sphere Packing: Visualize Composers' Total Musical Production


"Sphere Packing" is a series of 3D-printed spheres designed to concentrate the entire musical production of a composer in a single dense multi-channel device. The size of each sphere is directly proportional to how prolific the composer was, for example the sphere for Johann Sebastian Bach has 48 cm diameter and holds 1100 loudspeakers playing simultaneously Bach's 1100 different compositions, while the sphere for Hildegaard Von Bingen only has 11 cm diameter and 69 loudspeakers. The project presents at a glance the comparative production volume of many composers. As people are a couple metres away from a sphere they hear a quiet murmur of sounds, but as they approach and put their ear up close to individual speakers they can hone in on specific compositions. The series is inspired by American composer Charles Ives' practice of simultaneity as a compositional tool.

Technically, a set of custom-made circuit boards allow the simultaneous playback of thousands of separate sound channels. The spheres are modeled algorithmically and then 3D printed in different materials depending on the composer: porcelain, steel, polymer, stainless steel, etc. Each piece is suspended from a small playback box which is hung from the ceiling of the exhibition space. 

The list of composers is as follows, showing the number of sound channels for each sphere:

17 Claudio Monteverdi,39 Gustav Mahler, 69 Hildegaard Von Bingen, 70 Luigi Nono, 79 Conlon Nancarrow, 87 György Ligeti, 105 Henryk Mikołaj Górecki, 113 Richard Wagner, 128 Charles Ives, 129 Igor Stravinsky, 203 Karlheinz Stockhausen, 269 John Cage, 487 Ludwig van Beethoven, 565 Wolfgang A. Mozart, 612 George Frideric Handel, 998 Franz Schubert, 1128 Johann Sebastian Bach

Source: Rafael Lozano-Hemmer. Sphere Packing (2014).

Added by: Karine Charbonneau. Category: Uncertain  Tags: 3D print, composers, music, parametric