Heliophone Aernoudt Jacobs 2015

Listen to the sound of... the sun

With Heliophone, Aernoudt Jacobs presents an installation which turns sunlight into sound. In order to create this installation, Jacobs researched the ‘photoacoustic principle’ as discovered by Alexander Graham Bell at the end of the 19th century. Bell proved that a strong light source can be converted into an acoustic wave and, moreover that any material comes with a sonority that will be revealed by hitting it with a strong beam of light. The inventions of Bell led a.o. to the predecessor of the wireless telephone, and now indeed also to Heliophone. The basic principle of Heliophone is simple: energy from the sun is transformed into sound without electronic amplification. In the design, however, Jacobs combines an impressive array of traditional and cutting-edge technologies. The installation follows the trajectory of the sun, catching the sunlight and focusing it, via a parabol- ic lens, onto one point. There, a rotating disk chops the light up into small fragments. A photo-acoustic cell further transforms the light fragments into sound, made audible by a large horn.

With Heliophone, Jacobs created a sound piece for the sun; the tonality of the installation constantly changing with the intensity of light. In this way, the notion of ‘environmental sounds’ gains an entirely different connotation.

'I see it a bit as a prolongation of my field recording work where I hunt for sounds or when I try to grasp the origins of sound.' – (Aernoudt Jacobs - WMMNA interview, 11/06/2015)

Concept: Aernoudt Jacobs
Co-Production: Overtoon, STUK
Executive Production: Overtoon
Supported: IWT CICI grant
Scientific research: KU Leuven, Laboratory for Acoustics; Christ Glorieux, Bert Roozen, Monika Rychtarikova, Bert Verstraeten, Jonas Doevenspeck, Kristof Peeters
Realisation: Culture Crew
Many thanks to: Dennis Pohl, Julie Vandenbroucke, STUK crew, Imal Fablab

Productions by Aernoudt Jacobs

Induction Series #1
Phantom Melodies
Induction Series #3
The Photophon Principle
Induction Series #4.2 - Horseshoe
Induction Series #4.1 - Beam
Induction Series #4.3 - Tin Space
Heliophone Drawings
Color Of Noise