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The Magnetosphere

Matthew Steinke's avatar Matthew Steinke

The fluctuating yet persistent presence of the Earth’s Magnetosphere forms an aura of invisible electromagnetic energy around the outer atmosphere of the planet. This transitional frontier is where the Earth interfaces with outer space and where satellites and discarded space junk are possessed by the invisible forces of gravity and electromagnetism. Utilizing found objects, robotics, electronics, sound, and music, this work echoes the imagined feelings of kaleidoscopic weightlessness in an oscillating orbit around the Earth. The disparate collection of artifacts form a connection with one another through the phenomena of electromagnetism and sonic resonance. In addition to the robotic percussion and player toy-piano, the magnetic membranophones in particular featured in this work are an unexplored area of musical instrument design and sonology. They produce a rich palette with a range of dynamic acoustic timbres similar to horns, cellos, flutes, and percussion. Using software, the electromagnet that is held next to each membrane is carefully controlled with pulse width and frequency modulation exploiting the resonance and the full tonal range for each set of instruments. Unlike speaker-based electronic compositions (flat one-dimensional sounds), all of the warm complex sympathetic and resonant assets of these acoustic instruments are projected in every direction throughout the space.

Entry Details
  • Art form: Time-Based
  • Depth: 20'
  • Medium: Mixed
  • Width: 20'
  • Year created: 2016
  • Height: 12'