Architecture, Art, Astrology, Automata, Economy, Light, Society, Sound

Nicolas Schöffer and Luminodynamism

“Echoing El Lissistsky’s ‘prouns’ defined as the midway point between architecture and painting, Schöffer would extend the scale of his sculptures to monumental proportions. His 52m high Cybernetic Tower in Liège, created in 1961, senses its immediate environment using microphones, hygrometers and anemometers (wind measurement). The information collected from these sensors is used orchestrate the movement of mirrors and lights on the towers, and also to generate environmental sounds to be played back to the city. Viewed at night time the mirrors act more as colour switches giving an overall impression of network interactions and connections inferred via pulsing colours. With nodes of interconnected light existing in a lattice perhaps Schöffer was attempting to mimic the invisible communication infrastructures that were developed during the 50′s and 60′s and who’s influence had grown to create the science of Cybernetics.”


Algorithm, Architecture, Astrology, Automata, Commons, Economy, Farming, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Society, Water

Crypto Water Computers from 1936

“In the front right corner, in a structure that resembles a large cupboard with a transparent front, stands a Rube Goldberg collection of tubes, tanks, valves, pumps and sluices. You could think of it as a hydraulic computer. Water flows through a series of clear pipes, mimicking the way that money flows through the economy. It lets you see (literally) what would happen if you lower tax rates or increase the money supply or whatever; just open a valve here or pull a lever there and the machine sloshes away, showing in real time how the water levels rise and fall in various tanks representing the growth in personal savings, tax revenue, and so on.”


Algorithm, Art, Astrology, Automata, Biology, Chaos, DIY, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Nature

Owen Schuh

“Owen Schuh uses mathematical procedures, sometimes with the aid of a calculator as well as bespoke drawing machines, to generate emergent drawings which evoke computational and natural system visualisations. One of the key aspects of Owen’s work is the use of simple formulae, iteratively, to direct the growth of complex structures – local calculations give rise to autonomous and unexpected global configurations.”


Algorithm, Art, Astrology, Automata, DIY, Drawing machine, History, Interface, Maker, Man/Machine, Mathematics, Music, Science, Society, Sound

Lord Kelvin’s Harmonic Synthesizer

“Originally designed as a tide predictor in 1873, the system can combine numerous component waves—in some devices, up to 64 separate components—into a single curve. It is based on the earlier pin-and-slot device, which produces simple harmonic motion with the turn of a crank.”


Art, Astrology, Mathematics, Music, PDF, phenomenology, philosophy, Science, Society, Sound

Music and Science in the Age of Galileo (1992)

“…features twelve essays by leading specialists in the fields of musicology, history of science, astronomy, philosophy, and instrument building that explore the relations between music and the scientific culture of Galileo’s time. The essays take a broad historical approach towards understanding such topics as the role of music in Galileo’s experiments and in the scientific revolution, the musical formation of scientists, Galileo’s impact on the art and music of his time, the scientific knowledge of instrument builders, and the scientific experiments and cultural context of Galileo’s father, Vincenzo Galilei.”