The Electromagnetic Fountain

Posts Tagged ‘musical fountain

Patching with Mattias

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Yesterday I brainstormed my ideas for controlling the EMFountian with Mattias, an MA student at the Academy of Fine Art in Bergen, Norway. The aim of the session was to make a plan for developing a simple control system for the fountain that can be developed over time. We ruminated together over using parts of existing max/msp/jitter patches which we have each developed for 2 different projects that used similar/related soft- and hardware elements. I put my patch for the Emotion Organ (made with the help of, amongst others, Piotr Pajchel) on the table, and Mattias brought out a patch he made for When You Hunger Number One, a sound/light installation by Asbjørn Hollerud.

This is what we ended up with.

1. Start by sending the sound from each sniffer through fiddle~ objects
(text taken from documentation file):

“The fiddle~ object estimates the pitch and amplitude of an incoming sound, both continuously and as a streem of discrete \”note\” events. Fiddle~ optionally outputs a list of detected sinusoidal peaks used to make the pitch determination. Fiddle~ is described theoretically in the 1998 ICMC proceedings, reprinted on

Fiddle’s creation arguments specify an analysis window size, the maximum polyphony (i.e., the number of simultaneous “pitches” to try the find), the number of peaks in the spectrum to consider, and the number of peaks, if any, to output “raw”. The outlets give discrete pitch (a number), detected attacks in the amplitude envelope (a bang), one or more voices of continuous pitch and amplitude, overall amplitude, and optionally a sequence of messages with the peaks.”

2. Let Fiddle find three groups of frequency ranges HIGH, MEDIUM, LOW, and scale them to DMX values.

3. Use the full range of values to control the manifold water pump.

4. Use the full range of values to control the central jet pump, but when passing from one range group to another, the output signal should be set to zero to create a water drop before it rises agian.

5. Asign HIGH range values to R, MEDIUM to G and LOW to B values to control the RGB LED lights.

6. Use the ATTACK signals to open and close the water jet solenoid valves.


Written by ajsteggell

September 21, 2008 at 4:44 pm

MIT’s Bellagio Fountain

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Here is a link to a MIT musical fountain project, La Fontaine Du Campus Est, by Zack Anderson and friends.

….. La Fontaine Du Campus Est (The Fountain of East Campus) is a computer-controlled, servo-actuated, LED and halogen-lit, sump-pump powered water fountain. It features five streams of water that can each be individually controlled (on/off) as well as pivoted (90 degrees of freedom). Each stream of water is lit by a halogen light. The perimeter of the fountain has RGB triplets that can perform various animations. The fountain and water are also illuminated by eight Luxeon LEDs. The entire system is controlled by a PC that sequences through a choreographed file called a ShowFile. Three circuit boards act as an interface between the fountain and the computer: a valve control board, an LED control board, and a servo control board. All but the last were custom built for La Fontaine Du Campus Est…..

The site gives a great description of how he and his team built it, including video documentation of some of the processes and techniques, as well as the fountain in action. All schematics and source codes are also available for download. Lovely!

Not exactly how I imagine the Electromagnetic Fountain, but the spirit is definitely there. I just can’t help embedding the fountain in action:

Written by ajsteggell

March 25, 2008 at 9:23 pm