Co.Design

Sound Looks Like This

The eerie beauty of a subwoofer and lycopodium powder.

To better understand Cymatics, the study of visible sound, train your eyes to Susie Sie’s experimental videos. The filmmaker uses haptic, analog techniques to capture the visual effects of sound and vibration.

For The Essence of Sound, that meant filming lycopodium powder as it shakes and dances in time to music by Sie's friend and composer Clemens Haas. The music played out of a subwoofer placed nearby.

Sie uses lycopodium powder--an ultra-fine powder made from clubmoss spores--because its delicate texture creates the best expressions of sound oscillations. The finished product (made for German audio systems company Burkhardtsmaier) looks like a perfect storm of extreme weather: The powder bubbles up like molten lava, breaks apart like an earthquake, and finally gets blown upwards, in a micro-tornado, before settling back down.

See more of Sie's work here.

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