Digital Light Show

Story by Jeremy Young

Faculty of Architecture and Design, 2018

The Project and the Name

The Victoria School of Design encourages students to be aware of how their work is presented and in what medium. In particular, students in undergraduate Media Design courses are driven to create design that is deliberate and purposeful. As a Design student, my response to this was my final undergraduate project dubbed ‘Grande Sonnerie’. It is an audio-visual experience—an exhibition of sound and video.

The name Grande Sonnerie refers to the movement in a traditional mechanical watch and translates to ‘Grand Strike’ in English. This name was chosen as it combines complexity, modernism, and traditional design elements all in the one movement. The style of the piece also works to impress; to show off its technical ability and prowess, in much the same way as modern watch complications are used to differentiate different timepieces.

What is it?

The work was displayed on 15 different computer screens simultaneously, positioned to create a seamless image overall if viewed from a specific position in a room. The concept was an attempt to mimic how a traditional watch works, with many small parts working together to create a single unified product. Images flowed seamlessly from one screen to the next regardless of angle or distance of screen when viewed from the correct angle.

  • <p>Grande Sonnerie. </p>
  • <p>Grande Sonnerie. </p>
  • <p>Grande Sonnerie. </p>
  • <p>Grande Sonnerie.</p>

A Sensory Experience

As it was a sensory experience, it was important that the piece was able to stand on its own without explanation or any idea of the underlying concept. Although the concept and meaning are important for the overall understanding of the work, the average viewer may not read the background material and it is unlikely that the inspiration—the mechanics of watch complications—are known to many. However, the simple representation of a circular aesthetic and ‘parts making up a whole’ are easily signposted.

While difficult to describe without seeing and hearing, Grande Sonnerie is both clean and chaotic; the piece had to feel somewhat frantic, continuously jumping from style to style and detail to detail.

Exploration was done with various different styles and methods to create visual effects that appear coherent. Ultimately, computer generation was used for all visual aspects. The inspiration to create a representation of a watch complication was derived from a personal interest in mechanical watch movements and how they are constantly evolving to create new methods and mechanisms.

Grande Sonnerie

Digital and Analogue

Despite this being a primarily digital work, audio was sourced using traditional recordings of noises such as a chain-link fence, hospital equipment, and bass guitar tuning. The main beat of this work was created by using a contact microphone recording of banging on a chain-link fence, and then compiled and tuned. It was important to create an audio component that could be linked to the different visual elements throughout the work.

This was a project that chose to challenge not only technical abilities, but also overall design aesthetic abilities. Working this heavily with creating and editing audio from scratch allowed finer control than typically is seen on a design project and opened up new unique opportunities for developing the work. A circular motif became a key factor in the work, bringing different elements into coherency and creating a narrative with an entirely abstract composition style visually until the very end of the sequence.

Find the School of Architecture and Design

School of Architecture and Design, 139 Vivian St, Te Aro, Wellington 6011, New Zealand