Sonic Water by Sven Meyer & Kim Pörksen

Published on September 6, 2013


In the beginning there was sound.
The reason cymatics exerts such a strong fascination is that they are not conditioned to “see sound”. Cymatics is like a magic tool that unveils the true substance of things audible, but conventionally invisible.
With it one can recreate the archetypes of different forms of nature.

So sound does have form and cymatics enables you to comprehend that it not only affects but causes form in matter.
In fact, they think sound had a fundamental influence on the formation of the universe itself. But that is another story.
Primarily, they are fascinated by the simplicity of this subject.
All it takes is sound and a very basic medium such as water to create… well, what could be (and in our view is) the coolest sound visualizer.

How does it work?
Their installation at the Photography Playground in Berlin consists of two different areas.
A self-running installation and a DIY water-sound-image laboratory where people can experiment with their own cymatics.
The setup in both areas is almost identical. The only difference is, that you can use your own camera and create your own soundscapes in the DIY laboratory.

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The installation is very simple: A sound signal is used to vibrate a speaker. On top of the speaker membrane we have applied a plate and on the plate we have then glued an ordinary bottle cap. The bottle cap (or the whole plate) is filled with water. The water works as a flexible three-dimensional sculpture mass, that translates the sound into pictures. The vibration of the speaker creates one of a kind water-sound-images in response to the respective sound impulse – from chaotic patterns to standing mandala-like waves.


The camera films the speaker from above and basically shoots a macro mode live view of the bottle cap action which is projected onto a large screen.
When people enter the room they initially just see the big screen cymatics projections. However, once they approach the cube with the speaker they suddenly grasp the setup and have this moment of incredulity and utter bewilderment, that a setup as simple as ours can create such astounding visuals. But this part of their installation is actually just an incentive or an ice breaker.
Their actual intention is for the audience to have fun in the laboratory, where they can create and document their own cymatics.
In the DIY laboratory you clamp a Olympus OMD camera on the stand, which you get upon entering the exhibition and you can then film or take photos of the water-sound-images you create by means of sound signals from a synthesizer, by using your own voice (via a microphone) or by just playing your favorite song on your smartphone.
What does it look like if you hum your favorite tune into the microphone? What does Wagners “Twilight of the Gods” look like in cymatics?
The results are images reminiscent of the shape of flowers, the form of a starfish, the patterns of turtleshells, cell division, the golden ratio, the flower of life – all depending on the individual frequency impulse.
In the laboratory you become the creator, the big bang and part of the genesis.

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Video documentation:

Sonic Water is a cymatics installation.
Cymatics is the process of visualizing sound and vibrations through matter, such as for example sand or water.

Test video by Kymat

An interactive installation by

Sven Meyer (Elfenmaschine)
Kim Pörksen (PIECE OF CAKE)

Fotos by / OLYMPUS

Text by : Sonicwater


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