Instead of AdBlock, enjoy ad-free CAN by becoming a member. Everybody wins!
HOLO is a biannual magazine about emerging trajectories in art, science, and technology brought to you by the people behind CAN. Learn more!

Years [vvvv, Arduino]

Created by Bartholomäus Traubeck, Years is a record player that translates wood’s year rings into sound. Using a ps eye camera, the grain on the slices of wood is read and converted into music. Includes modified turntable, computer, camera, acrylic glass, veneer, approx. 90x50x50 cm.


Technical components include arduino, ps eye, stepper motor for moving the tonearm, vvvv and ableton live, all connected via midiyoke and/or serial.

A tree’s year rings are analysed for their strength, thickness and rate of growth. This data serves as basis for a generative process that outputs piano music based on the year ring data. Those are analyzed for their thickness and growth rate and are then mapped to a scale which is again defined by the overall appeareance of the wood (ranging from dark to light and from strong texture to light texture). The foundation for the music is certainly found in the defined ruleset of programming and hardware setup, but the data acquired from every tree interprets this ruleset very differently.

Project Page

Bartholomäus Traubeck, born in Munich, Germany in 1987. Currently living and studying in Rotterdam, Netherlands and Linz, Austria.

    • Anonymous

      I want to know more about how this was done.

    • Bthompso

      Here is a little bit more detail: http://traubeck.com/years/

    • Anonymous

      Was thinking more in-depth, like an instructable =)

    • Dan Winter

      consider using the harmonics of the electric field of the tree         goldenmean.info/trees

    • Lecker

      that website seems very esoteric. 

    • guest

      i just hope those trees were already cut down for something else!

    • Mdaltonwhite

      What an incredible concept.

    • http://twitter.com/elliotwoods Elliot Woods

      great idea
      worth exploring more. perhaps the fidelity of the interpretation can better represent something about the life of the tree / the story of each of the years. I presume this is part of what is intended.

      i’m not sure that giving an instructable makes sense for a work which is less about ‘a novel technique’ and more about  ‘a novel perspective’. the trees rings could be interpreted in many ways / with many mechanisms. making an instructable suggests that others should follow the technique and mechanism, whereas in this case it would be more appropriate that (if they wanted) others should find their own route to capture and interpret the data

    • Douglas Michael Massing

      Hint: Science and technology, even when used to produce art, are not magic. Nor are they parlor tricks that can be mastered over a weekend. Nor are you likely to learn how to do something like this on the Internet. Get over it.

    • Glenmthomas

      fuckin love it.
      true passion for ethos of life and energy and not bullshit. not bullshit.

    • http://www.facebook.com/david.a.coomes David Anthony Coomes

      I’m very glad this tree had knots and eccentricity; a plantation pine wouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining

    • Michael

      it plays all the same minor chord, just different inversions of it in different octaves.