Making a Polyhedral Bone Instrument

Resosseous is an exploration of the relationship between form, space, sound and social interaction. This polyhedral bone instrument was created by designers Ramin Shambayati and Mehran Davari as an attempt to invoke the fantasy of a forest exploration.

The goal was to create a magical experience for visitors in the woods. The medium? A large scale bone instrument that produces sound when touched.

In this post, Ramin and Mehran share a few details about their project and how it was made.

The concept behind Resosseous is that the sculpture itself serves as a ‘place-maker’ where passersby and users are prompted to shed their anonymity by challenging curiosities and working with each other to create new and unexpected soundscapes.

The structure can be implanted into any environment and be left there for human interaction. Resosseous has the potential to reshape any space into a social one filled with collective experiences and memories.

At first glance it’s unclear how it works or where the sounds are coming from, which makes the process and technique behind it all the more intriguing.

The structure, sitting at around 3 metres wide by 3.4 metres tall, is lightweight and can be lifted by 2-3 people. It can also be disassembled/assembled within a few hours so it is easy to move it around to different sites. 24 structural nodes are built from steel reinforcement that is welded to steel pipes. The structural steel node pipes slot and screw into 36 connecting aluminum pipes that hold the polyhedral structure together.

The node casings (which house the electronics) are a fiberglass/resin composite cast inside 3D-printed moulds, and cover the 12 nodes along the middle band of the structure. Each electronics node consists of 1 Touch Board, 1 rechargeable mini speaker, 1 rechargeable lithium polymer battery, and wires connected to copper tape that act as capacitive distance sensors.

One of the main criteria of the project was to conceal the technology, and seamlessly translate the proximity of a human hand to the fiberglass casing as a signal to be turned into sound.

The Touch Board was ideal for this application as by attaching copper tape to the underside of the node casing and wiring them to 3 of the board’s electrodes, the team were able to create very effective proximity sensors that detect the permittivity of the human hand through the fiberglass material, thus giving off a magical responsiveness to the first-time user.

Each of the 12 boards served 3 sides of the triangular nodes and 1 speaker, therefore a total of 36 sounds coming through 12 channels. Soundscape 2.0 supplied them with ambient recordings from sounds of the nearby environment that they loaded as MP3s on most of the boards.

They combined these with instrumental sounds with some of the Touch Boards being set up in MIDI mode, as they tapped into some great sounds from the onboard chip.

Ramin told us that the project had great results as it was really enjoyable to stand back and watch a variety of different people and groups interact with the structure, and in turn, with each other, which was the aim of the project.

He adds that the design could be used as a platform for artists to both experiment in production and expose their work to the public. For example, a musician could load sounds onto Resosseous that a group of users interact with and create different collaborative compositions. Or it could be used as a tool in a musician’s studio, offering a 12 channel surround-sound environment.

Watch the video and experience yourself how Resosseus work.

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Photo Credits: Alexandra Kononchenko, Joanna Lewanska and Ramin Shambayati