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The Electromechanical Solenoid Orchestra (ESO) is a two-year design research project that resulted. in the design and development of a decentralized mechanical sound and music network driven by real time data. The design of the ESO system stems from the concept of creating complex machine systems from simple mechanisms or components such as electromechanical actuators. The form and installation layout of the ESO is inspired by the Stele Forest at the Xi’an Beilin Museum. When installed in a spatial matrix formation, the viewer can experience the installation from within.


A total of 24 stainless steel cage were designed and built for the ESO, each cage a deconstructed xylophone with one octave controlled and activated through solenoid tapping. These custom-made and non-traditional instrument can be driven by data to generate complex musical soundscapes that go beyond the capabilities of human muscle movement. At the same time, the instruments are designed to connect and work with traditional instruments such as MIDI controllers or keyboards, as well as data platforms.

This piece was exhibited as part of the “Weather Tunnel” project during the “TransLife” Beijing New Media Triennial exhibition at the National Art Museum of China in 2011. The ESO utilized data points from 7 different cities across the USA, Asia and Europe to create arpeggios based off of weather environmental data such as CO2, CO, NO2, LUC, temperature, rH and PM2.5.

ESO, "Weather Tunnel" and the "TransLife" exhibition have been covered by Rhizome,  The New York Times, ArtLinkArt, CBCNET

This piece was later showcased at Beijing Design Week Dashilar in  2014.

ESO in the "Weather Tunnel" at TransLife, National Art Museum of China, Beijing, 2011.

ESO, Weather Tunnel documentary created by Michelle Calabro, featuring Joe Savaadra, developer of the Air Quality Egg that supported the data collection of the Weather Tunnel Project.

Translife Exhibition, Weather Tunnel - Parsons School of Design. 

Video by Michelle Calabro

Solenoid cage details and controller circuit. 

ESO - Close Up 7 - Benjamin Bacon.JPG

Detailed mechanism design for each octave cage, including how components fit together, stand design and matrix design. This spatial configurations of the pillars could potentially bring out the three dimensional nature of sound.

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