Acoustic soundwaves ripple through 5,000 swaying, luminescent blades in Fabien Oefner's new installation and performance, Field of Sound. Oefner—who wowed us in the past with Ferrari physics and technicolor ferrofluids—has a knack for seeking out scientific phenomena and molding them into—literally—explosive visuals. In this latest work for Milan Design Week, Oefner teamed up with media artist Simon Schubiger, splintering the science of sound into thousands of glowing plexiglass columns.
Choreographed to pieces performed on Peugeot Design Lab's Pleyel piano, Oefner and Schubiger's project is part-engineering triumph and part-futuristic Fantasia. Within each of the Field of Sound's acrylic glass stems, an LED glows in a gradient of blue, while beneath the 118' square space, mechanical roots power the stem's movement through a system of electromagnets. The artists developed this subterranean control mechanism after experimenting with wave patternes using a wooden prototype. The resultant system responds to each wavering note by sending a smooth wave through corresponding rows of glass. "It captures the ephemeral sound waves for a few seconds as motion and makes them visible and tangible in turn," Oefner adds on his site. "Pitch and intensity of the music induce motion at different positions in the field, resulting in an emotional, poetic and unique interpretation of sound."