Sonic Canvas

Paper & Sound Installation










An Intel-sponsored experimental workshop to explore the potential of sound and physical materials to create elegant and surprising theatrical interaction experiences.

How might we create and augment paper with sound and magic, whilst creating interaction amongst the pieces, between the pieces and the performer, or the performer and the audience? 


An audiovisual installation and performance piece created by the interaction between metal, ink, paper, sound against sound. The hidden performer constructs the music by colliding the ink-soaked metal pieces against each other and the microphone using magnets and tuning forks. Sounds are reproduced as shadows following the piece, and influences the video projection on the calligraphic piece.


Sonic canvas intentionally hides the performer to allow the audience to question who – or what – is controlling the piece, blurring the identity of performer, human, and automata. Underneath the canvas, a human performer manipulates the sounds indirectly. The vibrations resonate through the table, and two contact microphones amplify the objects’ rolling, rubbing, and colliding. 

The signals from the contact microphones are enhanced in Ableton Live to create roaring and buzzing overtones. As impulses are generated, some are turned into repeating samples, generating an undulating rhythm to the piece. An air microphone picks up additional ambient noise and influences the ghostly projection via a Max/MSP/Jitter patch. This results in a live painting performance, augmented sonically and transformed into a synesthetic opera.




We initially explored the sound of various kinds of paper and different materials such as sand, water, fire and wood through actions like burning, tearing, cutting, hitting, dropping and striking them against the wind. 


Through these experiments, we became attuned to the subtleties of the materials’ physical properties and sounds, inspiring us to create our own compositions.

To prepare for the installation setup, we created contact microphones and tested the control of objects through various surfaces. 


Sounds are digitally manipulated in audio software tools like Ableton, Reaper, and Max/MSP/Jitter. 




Angelisa Scalera, Paula Te and Samantha Lim

Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design



1 week



Sha Xin Wei, Topological Media Lab, Concordia University

Chris Wood, Queen Mary, University of London