Tangible Orchestra

2014, Edinburgh (UK)


3D Printing
Ultrasonic Sensors


Art, Concept and Development:
Rebecca Gischel & Sebastian Walter

Musical Composition

Video 1: Theresa Zaremba (UK)
Video 2+3: Ronald Jenkees (USA)




1 Arduino Mega
7 Cylinders
7 Microchips
112 Ultrasonic sensors
5047 LEDs

Tangible Orchestra

- 2014 -

Tangible Orchestra is an interactive light and sound installation that combines electronic and classical music perceived very individually in a three-dimensional space. Single units are triggered by people in close proximity and play a unique instrument, with the collection of individual instruments gathering as people congregate in the project space, eventually creating a complete musical work. Depending on the positioning of the listener and the instruments currently active, the musical piece is perceived differently every time, as one can walk through the installation like through an orchestra playing. As electronic music is usually composed and arranged at the mixing desk, the installation creates the illusion of an orchestra playing a music piece that relies heavily on digitally created sounds and therefore could not be perceived this way.

About Tangible Orchestra

Tangible Orchestra is an interactive light and sound installation that combines electronic and classical music perceived very individually in a three-dimensional space. It consists of seven individual cylinders that play their unique instrument if people in close proximity are identified by a complex system of sensors. Those cylinders create a very unique musical experience as cylinders closer to observer will be perceived louder and more dominant relative to the ones further away. Not only can one alter the song this way to what they like best, also by adding or omitting individual instruments, the musical piece gains new characteristics altogether. In the inside of each cylinder are a set of powerful LEDs that - when activated - lend visual expressiveness to that unit as light effects simulate the beat of the instrument currently playing. But not only interaction between the people and units are crucial for a thrilling result: On a superordinate level, human-human interaction is required. Only if enough people gather and scatter evenly across the project space, the installation evolves to its greatest potential and the complete work of art can be perceived.

Technical details

Hardware and Software

Human interaction with the Tangible Orchestra is made possible by 16 ultrasonic sensors on the inside of each cylinder granting a 360 degree field of view. Those sensors are run by an integrated processor evaluating and comparing the readings of all sensors making very accurate assessments. An imaginary bubble with a dynamically adjustable radius is drawn around each cylinder, and each individual stepping into it is detected by at least two sensors that report that reading to the processor. All processors constantly exchange information about their readings and a built on an Arduino platform. Processing as programming language is used to synchronize the readings and to generate a pattern in which the sensors cast their rays as with 112 ultrasonic sensors operating at the same time, there would be a substantial risk of interference and acoustic shadow misreading. A detected person within the bubble of a cylinder triggers that cylinder to dynamically activate its affiliated instrument and provides visual feedback in the form of constant glow. Simultaneously, the software converts the audible track of that instrument into an equalizer-like light beam playing with the beat operating 132 LEDs per cylinder. Each cylinder has its dedicated power supply unit and converts the Arduino signal into 230 Volt.

Exhibition at the 3D Printshow London (04/09/2014-06/09/2014)

Exhibition at the Glasgow Science Centre (09/08/2014-29/08/2014)

Exhibition at Royal Mile, Edinburgh (01/05/2014)

First Testing (19/04/2014)

Concept Art: Tangible Orchestra on platform as being a permanent indoors installation

First Exhibition of Tangible Orchestra at Royal Mile, Edinburgh (May 2014)

Exhibition of Tangible Orchestra in the Glasgow Science Centre (August 2014)

We are excited to announce that Picaroon is nominated for the Global Award "Artist of the Year"!

With kind support from Ideastap and Napier University