LASER Oscilloscope

LASER Oscilloscope
When:
27 May - 18 Jun 2016 18:00 - 23:00
Location:
Circular Quay

Artists: ((XSdB)) (Andrew Handmer (Australia) / Naritsara Handmer (Thailand) / Glen Huber (Australia))

LASER Oscilloscope replicates the functions of an oscilloscope, which is normally a tool used for viewing electrical signals on a screen; however, this installation adapts the technology to a grand scale, with coloured laser beams used to trace the undulating shapes of different sounds onto a large wall, framed by the night sky.

The interactive artwork highlights the diversity of form created by different sounds. Visitors see and experience the difference between the shape of a whistle and a hum, a clap and a shout, or even the way two sounds mix together.

A higher-pitched sound has a higher frequency, which makes the waves look closer together; a louder sound has a higher amplitude, which means the waves are taller; a pure sound will give the wave a very smooth shape, called a sine curve; while a rough or distorted sound will create a jagged or pointy wave.

Oscilloscope technology operates using a microphone to pick up sounds as they travel through the air in waves of pressure; the sound is then converted to electrical signals, which are displayed on a small screen.

The LASER Oscilloscope employs similar operational principles in capturing the sounds with a microphone; however, a coloured laser beam is used to respond to the signal, which it does by wriggling rapidly up and down. Moving mirrors scan the laser beam from left to right at a more constant speed, assisting it in ‘tracing’ the shape of the sound wave onto the wall. Because the wave is moving so fast, the eye sees it as a continuous wave.

 

Country represented by installation: Australia