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Sonic Onyx: Sculpture with 3D Interactive Sound

Artists: Samir M’kadmi


The goal of the project is the creation of an interactive 3D sculpture that will be placed in the court yard of a Secondary School in Trondheim ( Norway). The sculpture will be about four meters high and the diameter of the “space” will be about seven meters. The globe on the top will be 1.75 m. The ‘legs’ will be metal and static, while the globe will be changing its color and intensity. The color will depend on the surrounding temperature. The intensity of the light will change according to the speed of the wind. In this way the sculpture will be constantly varying its appearance. Additionally, sound will be played all the time, which will attract the pupils (12-14 years old) and other spectators.

Although the sculpture’s appearance itself is very important in its aesthetical manifestation it will provide another important functionality – the possibility to interact with its sound system. The spectators will be able to go inside the sculpture to experience the 3-dimensional sound. While near the “space” the spectators will be able to interact with the system through their mobile phones. The communication will be via Bluetooth technology and will accept messages and different files sent by the pupils. In real-time the sent content will be processed by the software system and the interaction will influence the produced by the sculpture sound. This includes conversion of images and text into sound and combining it with the background music. Additionally, even if sound content is transferred to the system it will be transformed into unrecognizable sequence that will be played by speakers integrated in the sculpture. The documents that are played will be archived and played again in a random way when there is no traffic.

Several issues have to be faced for the creation of the sculpture. Apart from the physical creation of the space, the hardware and software have to be designed and developed. The work includes the planning and programming of the communication technology, evaluation of the equipment that is needed and planning of the sound part.



The sculpture has to be finished and opened for the public by October 2007.



Artist: Samir M’kadmi
Hardware and software developers: Students from HIST, Trondheim (
Empirical research: SArt group IDI, NTNU (
Moderator: Midgard Media Lab (


SArt Research Interest

A number of issues are interesting to be observed and/or empirically studied in different phases of the project - design, development and evaluation.

 Direction 1: Open Source Software ( OSS)

The software that will be developed during the project for the data processing and control within the sculpture will be based on well known and accepted by the artistic community OSS. Nevertheless, the software should be adapted and additional plug-ins should be created for the particular needs of the project. The created software is intended to be also OSS. This allows a study to be performed on important issues for OSS community, like the quality of software; the documentation and support provided within an OSS project, etc. A special attention will be paid on the artistic influence over those properties.

Direction 2: Mobile Interaction

One of the main functionalities of the sculpture is the interaction with the audience via their mobile phones. A study will be performed on the requirements negotiation and design for developing the interaction. The study will include an evaluation of the interaction modes after the opening of the school. Of particular interest will be how the interaction requirements agreed in the development phase match with the user expectations and regular modes of mobile phones use. Study might be done on differences in the usage according to the gender, age and group dynamic.

Direction 3: Innovation and learning issues

Innovation and learning research issues might be found in different stages of the project. In the design and development phase the interest falls on the computer science students’ particular skill improvements, including technical knowledge, project management abilities, communication skills, and creativity. On the other hand in the post-production phase the interest will be shifted to the pupils who will utilize the artwork system and on the outcomes of their interaction.