Arduino, MaxMSP, openFrameworks
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heliOscillator – Visualising the oscillations of sunspot size and density

HELI07 copy

Created for the University of Sheffield’s Festival of the Mind by Noel Murphy and Jamie Salmon in collaboration with Professor Róbertus von Fáy-Siebenbürgen and PhD student Nabil Freij, the heliOscillator is an audio visual installation that visualises the oscillations of sunspot size and density in a 7 part modular screen.

Each module is embedded with light dependant resistors, allowing the light of the projector hitting the screen to be measured in 42 different points over its surface, each sensors measurement is then used to control the pitch of an oscillator. The software was created using the openFrameworks and the light sensor data is captured via an Arduino micro controller and interpreted as sound using Max/Msp.

The projection itself is a data visualisation based around observations of individual sunspots. Each hexagon section represents one sunspot, and the colour and shading of its subsections reflect the change in size and darkness of that spot over time. The data counts round the hexagon in these triangle sections like a clock, always displaying the last 6 data points for comparison. The 6 sub sections match up with the light sensors, so every change in colour and intensity is measured and reflected in sound.

Project Page

heliOscillator (extended cut) from Visual Display Unit on Vimeo.