Co.Design

Watch: 14 Acoustic Guitars, Plucked By A Computer

In this serene installation, autonomous acoustic guitars mimic the tranquility of the ocean.

300 meters of cabling floats tangled in the air. Its wiry tentacles reach down to 14 acoustic guitars. And suddenly…music.

This is Playa, a project by Ruben Dhers. It’s an Arduino processor connected, via all that wiring, to a small group of guitars just lying there on the ground. The computer spins fabric-tipped motors, which flutter along the strings to make sound. That sound is not really a song so much as it is an atmosphere, an exhalation of all these inanimate objects working as one serene beast.

Dher’s motivation? "The personal need to try to translate in musical way the movements of the sea waves," he tells Co.Design. "Patterns and form of natural phenomena has been a fundamental a source of inspiration in my sound-musical work."

Does Playa sound like the ocean? Not literally. You don’t catch the crashes of waves or the calls of seagulls, but there is a hypnotic component to this ambient soundtrack—a soundtrack that can be tweaked when the computer fine-tunes its spinning motors, but ultimately, one that stems from this odd environment filled with self-playing instruments.

"I want the viewer to reach a contemplative state and some way to slightly lose the perception of time," Dher writes. And no doubt, sitting in this dark room beside all of this ephemeral sound, one could get lost in quiet thoughts. If only I could fit my bed in there.

[Hat tip: The Creators Project]

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