Aernoudt Jacobs - Heliophone © Aneil Karia

Listen to the sun!

13.07.2022

HELIOPHONE by Aernoudt Jacobs
Everyone knows that sound needs a medium to propagate sound waves. There is no sound in a vacuum. In space there is no sound, absolute silence will never exist for us either. Silence is a relative phenomenon, an ideal state. 

What would happen if there was no vacuum in space? What would be the sound in space like? It is probably a good thing that there is no sound in space. The species on earth would have certainly evolved with a different set of ears. 

Heliophone is an installation which turns sunlight into sound. In order to create this installation, Jacobs researched the ‘photo-acoustic principle’ as discovered by Alexander Graham Bell. Bell proved that a strong light source can be converted into an acoustic wave and, moreover that any material comes with a sonority that will be revealed by hitting it with a strong periodically interrupted beam of light. The principle of Heliophone is simple: energy from the sun is transformed into sound without electronic amplification. In the design, however, Jacobs combines an array of traditional and cutting-edge technologies. Heliophone follows the trajectory of the sun, catching the sunlight and focusing it, via a parabolic lens, onto one point. There, a rotating disk chops the light up into small fragments. A photo-acoustic cell further transforms the light fragments into sound, made audible by a large horn.

With Heliophone, a sound piece is created for the sun; the tonality changes constantly with the intensity of light. This way, the notion of ‘environmental sounds’ gains an entirely different connotation.

http://www.aernoudtjacobs.info/heliophone.html

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https://www.lawrencemalstaf.com/

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