Sound Mites explores how simple localized interactions between elements of a system can sometime result in unexpected complex patterns.

The work consists of a set of small tangible nodes that alter their behavior according to the nearby nodes, in an asynchronous fashion. Nodes have magnets on the bottom and are deployed on a flat metallic surface. Each node is equipped with a small speaker that generates a musical tone according to the state of its immediate neighbors and a simple set of rules. Nodes also provide visual feedback on their current state by means of colored lighting. Finally, the nodes sense touch through a thin metal rim and can toggle their state to reflect the interventions of viewers.

The nodes are fully independent from one another. Users can reconfigure the topology of the system in real-time by moving the nodes around and rearranging them, creating an ever-changing sound texture with unique qualities, revealed through the use of a large number of sound sources physically distributed in space.

My intent with this project is twofold. On one hand, I wish to explore how we can leverage emergent phenomenons to design more engaging audio/visual experiences. On the other, I hope that the direct manipulation of the nodes will help viewers get a better understanding and appreciation of emerging patterns within distributed systems.

Sound Mites was shown at COLLISIONeleven at the Stata Center in Cambridge, Massachussets.