listen to the cacti of love hultén make haunting sounds from biodata

listen to the cacti of love hultén make haunting sounds from biodata

‘Songs of the desert’ by love hultén

prickly cacti sound Just the way they look: haunting, creepy, but sometimes playful. audiovisual artist hulten love he wondered what cacti would sound like and went ahead to bring out his inner melodies in his trademark way of using cables, data, and his custom-built sound machine.

“It’s not magic and the plants aren’t composing, it’s just biofeedback creating true organic randomness.” he says. As you plug the clip into the cactus spines, you close the lid, turn up the volume, and right there, the plant’s fluctuating feedback flows into the audiovisual artist’s spatial music box, providing listeners with the haunting yet alluring sounds of the nature.

songs of the desert hultén love
images courtesy of Love Hultén

Nicknamed ‘Desert Songs’, Hultén turns to the Plantwave, a small device that translates biodata from organic material into MIDI sounds, to delve into the melodies of the cactus. He explains that the plants act like variable resistors, so what his sound machine records and plays back are small changes in the electrical current of the test plants.

He used cacti for the project because of their “very sparse and sporadic activity,” which could indicate that the more movement a plant makes, the louder, sharper, and even harsher the sound might come out.

songs of the desert hultén love
plug the device into the thorns

mimicking chloroplasts under the microscope

For songs of the desert, hulten love Plant a whole cactus garden in the sound machine box. Equipped with a circular screen injected into a tube TV type box, the images that appear on the screen seem to come from the current detected by the plant device. “The cactus garden includes a few different specimens attached to probes, and the outputs for individual plants can be changed as you go using patch points in advance,” says the audiovisual artist.

The result looks like a science experiment that students will have fun trying. To complete the look of the biolab environment, Hultén even built a custom MIDI visualizer to mimic chloroplasts under the microscope. For MIDI aficionados, the AV artist says the signals are fed into a Korg NTS-1 for waveforming and then plunged into the atmosphere using Hologram Electronics’ Microcosm. For others, wondering what cacti sound like might have been finally answered (and weirdly, just to add).

songs of the desert hultén love
closeup view

listen to the cacti of love hultén make haunting sounds from biodata listen to the cacti of love hultén make haunting sounds from biodata

project information:

Name: desert songs

audiovisual: hulten love

device: vegetable wave

matthew burgos | design boom

January 25, 2023

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