Aesthetics are an important, but secondary, element of the work of designer Daniel Palacios. Waves, an audio-visual installation that uses sensors and rope to actualize sound waves, “is just a catalyst to put you inside an experience. You need to be able to interact with it, and to find its boundaries,” he tells Co.Design. For Palacios, this meant developing a unique new system that responded to its surroundings.
Here’s how it works: Eight miniaturized PIR (passive infrared) sensors embedded in the stands that support the two engines on either side of the rope “feel” what’s happening around it, detecting any movement in the perimeter of the installation. “The sensors aren’t looking for the amount of people, or to know where they’re located; it’s more about their behavior,” he explains. Their actions are then translated into different spinning patterns, which are enacted by the engines. “No movement by the audience generates no movement in the rope. Minimal movement around the installation will generate different states of sinusoidal shapes and harmonic sounds, while the inertia of the rope will take care of smooth or ‘unpredictable’ fades from one pattern to another.”
The difficult part of developing the project wasn’t, in fact, perfecting these technical aspects. “Electronic design and programming was easy compared to finding the right material for the rope: its diameter, how long, how tense, etc.,” he explains of the 5 meters of 3-millimeter-thick elastic cord that he determined would ultimately achieve the right balance of mobility and melody.
Waves now travels the world from museums in Karlsruhe, Germany, to Beijing, China, to music festivals featuring performers like Moby and Yann Tiersen (who composed the impeccable Amelie soundtrack), with exhibitions in Spain, Switzerland, Portugal, and Poland all confirmed for the coming year.