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Student Showcase Archive

SoundObject Series to be Exhibited at Sónar in Barcelona

Students from Design Products and Information Experience Design (IED) are exhibiting their SoundObject series at Sónar in Barcelona this weekend (18–20 June). Accompanied by John Fass, Visiting Lecturer in Information Experience Design, the team are heading off to the festival of music, creativity and technology to contribute to Sónar+D, the international conference running in parallel with the festival.

SoundObject began as a collaboration between Design Products students and those on the IED ‘De-Computation’ elective, resulting in a series of projects that apply digital principles to physical objects. In partnership with home sound pioneers Sonos, students worked in cross-disciplinary groups to produce objects that use sound to mediate relations between people, objects and environments.

The project considers sound and listening as socially defined activities: people listen when alone, with family and groups of friends, and in diverse contexts. What people choose to listen to is also reflective of social structures and shared understandings. The design of these objects takes account of the highly textured relationship between the senses, and between individual and group behaviour.

Many of the sounds that surround us, such as station announcements or birdsong, form the background noise of our lives. SoundObject shows how soundscapes can be manipulated to reveal undetected sounds, and how environments in which to experience these soundscapes can be reconfigured.

Five projects from the series will be exhibited at Sónar: Dial Player features an interface inspired by board games, connecting multiple handheld music players or phones to solve arguments over who gets to pick the music at house parties; Sonic Bells allows a smartphone to be inserted into a kettlebell, enabling users to receive sound information about their exercise routine; XOXX Composer is a drum machine crafted from wood, paper, motors and magnets that turns sampling, looping and sequencing into tangible, kinetic, sculptural form; Eardar draws on tin can phones to create a low-tech private communication system made from funnels, plastic tubing and protective earphones; Sonic Motion is a play system, a bamboo climbing frame that responds to human movement with sonic feedback.

The SoundObject project has offered the chance for students to work with other students from different programmes, to learn about critical making, develop prototypes, and carry out creative design research. Each of the projects exhibited at Sónar embraces the complex and dynamic relationship between people and sounds, objects and technology.

For further details about SoundObject please click here for the Sónar+D website