Seeing Sound: A Tangible Paper Waveform

Creative Applications Network

In the last decade, we've watched as so much of our world has gone digital. Music, television, photography---seemingly everything is transforming into this format that is much more portable, but far less tangible. Those who still enjoy printing out photographs and playing records may also like this project: a tangible paper waveform.

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Created by Andrew Spitz and Andrew Nip(with code-wirting help from David Gauthier, Joshua Noble and Marcin Ignac) at CIID (Copenhagen Institut of Interaction Design) models a sonic waveform with layers of laser cut paper. As part of their Generative Design class, Spitz and Nip transformed sounds, as captured in a recording and displayed as a waveform, into a three-dimensional model. Circles of paper are graduated up and down to mimic the highs and lows of the audio file. This video on the Creative Applications Network post shows exactly how it's done.

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With this project, you can actually see sound! The resulting paper construction is at once meaningful and beautiful. I love the idea of giving one as a gift with a hidden, embedded message, or making a mobile out of visible sound...the ways that this might be incorporated into a home are vast! Without a lasercutter, a DIY would require a tremendous amount of time and patience, but I'm tempted to try!