ross mcleod and nick murray


The resonant objects project saw students embark on a series of experiments into the nature of sound and its relationship with materiality, form and spatial volume. The design process for this project differed greatly from the purely visual techniques designers are used to employing, as these works were made primarily to perform and react to the specific vibrations of sound waves in the air.

In order to come to terms with this ‘language of design’ the students embarked on an intensive series of workshops which trained them in the skills and perceptions needed to be able to identify and control the principles of sound and acoustics.

The class began with an introduction to the properties of sound, these included;

• Propagation
• Frequency
• Amplitude
• Amplification
• Ray and wave diagrams
• Reflection
• Diffraction
• Diffusion
• Absorption
• Reverberation
• Resonance
• Resonant frequency
• Harmonics

Each student was asked to purchase a five inch speaker, a length of speaker cable, some alligator clips and a speaker/ earphone jack. With this standard equipment they were able to set up a testing station that interfaced with their computer, ipod and stereo amplifier.

Over a period of seven weeks the students experimented with a range of sound vibrations, materials and forms. Refining an approach to the resonant object involved and developing a clear means of calibration for the sound frequencies and amplitudes propagated in relation to materials, proportions and volumes. After a period of testing and trialling students began to develop a deep understanding of sound and space.

The final pieces were carefully crafted instruments which provided a range of aural experiences which beautifully amplified and affected the original tones generated. The pieces also defined an architectural volume/space through their form which expressed visually the idea of resonance. The final installation created a field of objects and sound sources which intermingled the affects of each individual piece into an enchanting composition which confounded the gallery visitors with playful delight.