Project 2 – Magnet Chimes

Magnet Chimes


revolution & gravity, 2019

revolution & gravity by Yukio Fujimoto inspired me to deal with natural materials and sound that are subtle and may be easily overlooked in our daily lives. Fujimoto placed some salt, sugar, pepper etc into a tube attached to a motor from a musical box. He takes advantage of the rotating mechanics of the music box as well as its sound making nature, complemented by the sounds of the ingredients in the tube. The rotation causes the ingredients to move and collide, creating random and subtle sounds.


Though the magnet used for this project is man-made, I was interested in using magnets as they exist naturally in our world as lodestones or magnetites. Earth itself has a magnetic field that extends from its interior out into space. Since I wanted to play with natural materials, I felt that magnets would be an interesting material to deal with in this project too.

Project 1


Since the previous structure required a person to hold a magnet to create sounds, for the second project I wanted to improve the structure such that the magnets can repel and attract each other without needing the viewer to play with it.

To improve the structure, I took inspiration from traditional wind chimes that are hanging and have about 4-5 rods suspended.

Most wind chimes are also based on a pentatonic scale. I attempted to follow the C minor scale for the corals I used, although loosely, to make the chimes sound more pleasant to the ear.

For this trial, I had to experiment with the height of suspension and the distance between the magnets to find the optimum position for the magnets.

After attaching the corals, the weight brought down the magnet which disabled them from interacting with each other. I decided to change the structure of the chimes. Instead of attaching magnets on each coral, only the central coral piece would have a magnet attached at the bottom, with other magnets at the bottom moving to make the chime magnet move and create sounds.



Rotation using servo motor and arduino.

Slower speed – 90

Faster Speed – 45

Using a battery instead to slow down the speed and reduce the motor noise.


Surprise – The corals create sounds randomly according to how the moving magnets interact, thus the output is generative and without much pattern. In this aspect, the sounds create are unexpected and cannot be calculated.

Though I started off wanting to do the chimes completely analogue, I realised that it was difficult to manipulate the materials purely in an analogue manner, which resulted in me having to use digital means to make a rotating mechanism, which was also a surprising element personally.


Reading Assignment 3

This paper suggests that having a framework for analysing generative art is necessary, due to the broad sense of the term generative art that encompasses a large variety of works in terms of medium, subject matter, processes etc. Having a set framework to discuss and compare generative works provides consistency in how we assess them.

Cons of other frameworks

The study begins by studying existing frameworks that could be applied to analysing generative art works and discusses the shortcoming of these frameworks.

Stevens (1979), Volk (1995) and Ball (2001) analysed mainly on physical processes and natural patterns, of which most have served as an inspiration for generative art. They provide some basis for describing generative art, however according to the writers this method does not address conceptual or artificial processes. While the writers adopt a similar approach to this method, they address how conceptualisation is not always the most appropriate level of description in realising their aims to be inclusive of technical, practical and semantic elements of a work.

The approach adopted in his study might be applicable to generative art works when common forms can be identified. But should we wish to describe the processes themselves, the approach is not 1 A number of Thompson’s process descriptions published in the first edition turned out to be incorrect, highlighting the difficulty of the problem – albeit from a biological perspective – in Thompson’s time. 6 sufficiently tailored to art to be acute, nor is it sufficiently broad as to encompass all of the approaches an artist might adopt.

Galanter’s mapping does not facilitate discussion about any aspects of a work apart from order and complexity. This is insufficient when describing, analysing, comparing and critiquing works of art. The writers feel it is necessary to give equal attention to the forms of the processes themselves instead of purely focusing on the means by which the form is achieved.

Other methods of analysing generative works include emphasising on the importance of describing the processes employed to generate the artwork, as used by Nyman, Cardew and others. We too include this aspect of a generative work within our framework, but go further by suggesting specific details that better capture the nature of dynamic processes.

Programming paradigms are of assistance in understanding computational processes and algorithms. Their abstract level of description, focus on computational data, and functional relationships to that data, make them ill suited to understanding processes as meaningful artefacts in the context of the arts. Perhaps these approaches could be adopted to describe the technical elements of a work, but this seems to be the level at which their utility ends.

The writers have suggest four key elements that should be addressed when analysing generative art.

Entities: Entities are the subjects that the generative processes act upon. These may be real or conceptual, simulated, physical, chemical, biological or mechanical. Entities are constituents that are (conceptually) unitary and indivisible, and whose functional relationships are not typically expressed in terms of internal mechanisms. However, entities may exist in structured or hierarchical relationships with one another, leading to the creation of new composite entities.

Processes: The process can be discussed by describing the conditions or events that trigger the process to terminate, or articulating what allows the process to continue. Macro processes can be broken down into micro-events which can be identified and the relationship between these micro-events can be studied.

Environmental interaction:  This component describes the flow of information between the generative processes and their operating environment. These interactions can be characterise according to their frequency (how often they occur), range (the range of possible interactions, or amount of information conveyed) and significance (the impact of the information acquired from the interaction on the generative system). This can also be extended to higher order interactions involving the artist. Generative practices are different in how the creator manipulates the outcome via the intermediate layer of the generative system. The outcomes of the system are constrained using the interactions, which the artist often set parameters based on ongoing observation and evaluation of the output.

Sensory outcomes: This refers to the experienced aspects of a generative art work. This may include artefacts (visual, sonic, musical, literary, sculptural, etc.), static or time-based forms.

Generative art and its difference from traditional art 

Generative Art can be defined as art created through the means of autonomous systems, eg. natural language rules, algorithms, genetic sequences, machines, or procedural interventions. These generative processes produce a range of results, which rely largely on elements of chance and randomness. It perhaps shares most similarities with conceptual artists who may construct works based on formal rules and number systems.

The purpose of analysing art

Art analysing and art criticism is based on the pursuit of a rational basis for art appreciation. Art criticism is defined as “a form of literature which condenses or amplified, emphasizes or arranges or attempts to bring into harmony all the ideas that come to the mind when it is confronted by artistic phenomena”, by French poet & philosopher Paul Valéry. This means analyzing and criticism plays an important part in developing and deepening artworks while helping viewers perceive and interpret works of art.

The downside of laying down a rubric to perceive art may be that it promotes interpreting works only in one manner, thus limiting the way a viewer may experience and process generative works. The way a viewer can experience, interpret and perceive an artworks exists in myriads of possible ways, yet a framework seems to standardise and limit this possibility. Should the purpose of analysing and criticing art be to deepen and enhance artworks, a framework could also limit the potential of an artwork. While the framework provided is tailored for generative works and facilitates a deeper analysis, it is also difficult to use this framework to compare generative art to other types of art, resulting in an isolated perception of generative art.

Art could serve as a means to open our sensory experiences, and trigger the imagination and broaden our perspective. However, suggesting a framework could limit this experience and restrict the way a viewer perceive and interpret an artwork.

Week 10 Update

Sonic quality of Wind Chimes

Most chimes employ pentatonic scales as the basis for the pitches of their individual chimes as opposed to the traditional western heptatonic scale.

Pentatonic scale – a musical scale with five notes per octave

This is largely due to the fact that these scales inherently contain fewer dissonant intervals, and therefore sound more pleasant to the average listener when notes are struck at random.

Magnet Motor

To make the magnet chimes more automatic, where it moves purely from magnetic forces without needing a person to interact with the chimes, I am considering using magnet motors in the magnet chimes.

Creative Industry Report

Kusaka Akira is a freelance illustrator, graphic designer, and art director from Osaka, Japan. He does mainly illustration works, and creates artworks for advertisements, book covers, children’s illustration book, web design and more using these illustrations.

Blue Bottle by Kusaka Akira

Kusaka’s illustrations possess a distinct style, characterized by a raw and hand drawn quality despite being created purely through photoshop. They have a whimsical aspect which is achieved by juxtaposing unlikely subject matters together. As a freelance illustrator and graphic designer, he has multiple sources of revenue, which include selling his illustrations on Etsy, in local cafes and exhibitions and working for clients such as Yamana Liquer Brewery and Banchaya (tea house).

森の蜜酒 Art Direction, Graphic Design, Illustration by Kusaka Akira

I admire that his works remain in his distinct style across the different clients he has had for his works, showing that clients appreciate Kusaka for his unique works and that his voice as an illustrator and designer are not overshadowed by the needs of the clients

Beyond just an illustrator/ graphic designer

CD album jacket design by Kusaka
Kusaka Akira (trombone) & Taniguchi Yuka (piano)







Kusaka’s work as an illustrator and graphic designer is not limited to just commercial purpose, and extents his drawings to his interest as well. He is a trombone player in his two man band repair. According to Kusaka, the activities of repair revolve around poetry, picture and music. In my opinion it is admirable that his capabilities are not limited to image making, and that his philosophy and style is applied to other mediums – his music. For repair’s performance event and album covers, Kusaka designs them which shows how he practices his craft for his hobbies and interest as well, which I feel constitutes to a dedicated and passionate illustrator who truly enjoys making art.

In terms of illustration style, work ethics and manner, and engagement in other activities, I find that Kusaka is an admirable illustrator and graphic designer and hope to be able to work in a similar manner – not needing to be entirely commercial such that an individual’s working style and identity as an artist gets compromised.


Week 8 Project Update

Magnet Chimes

Project Update

To improve this project, I would like to experiment with electromagnets to perhaps enable the viewer to have a better control in manipulating the magnet chimes.

Creating an electromagnet using:

  • Large iron nail (approximately 3 inches in length)
  • Thin coated copper wire
  • Dry cell batteries
  • Electric tape
  • Iron fillings, paper clips and other magnetic items
Below is a sketch for how I would try to incorporate the electromagnet into the structure, however there is definitely a need to try different ways to include the electromagnet.
Surprise is defined as the unexpected, or discovering something suddenly. This aspect exists in how the reaction of the magnets with each other and with the electromagnet cannot be anticipated, and the sounds that emerge from the chimes will always be different according to their position and the viewer’s manipulation.

Generative Study 1 Final


Other than using magnets to create spontaneous movements, natural materials were chosen as inspired by Fujimoto Yukio’s work. These include seashells, wood, and corals.


While playing with the different materials and listening to their sound, I noticed some materials make higher pitched sounds and some lower. With this, I decided to make the chimes have 3 differently pitched tones, classifying them according to their tone range.

Soprano – higher tone range

Alto – medium tone range

Bass – Lower tone range

Final Outcome of Magnet Chimes

Magnet Chimes is a work that aims to change the way we experience sounds from nature. The individual pieces come together to create spontaneous and random sounds. The sounds generated are derived from the movement of the magnets in the structure that attract and repel each other, as well as from the magnet held by the user.


Setting up the height of the magnet, and the distance from each other was one of the tougher parts of this challenge. An equilibrium needed to be established to ensure the magnets are not too near or too far from each other. Another challenge was getting the sounds generated to be random. Because the movement is caused the the magnets held by the viewer, the sounds tend to be cluttered together and do not sound entirely random.

Moving Forward

The initial idea for this project was to create chimes that would interact only with each other via magnets to create sounds. However, while working on this project, I realised that establishing a system that would work was challenging and due to time constraints, the system changed to one that required the viewer to hold a magnet and play the magnet chimes. As mentioned by Dejan, a way to move forward with this project would be to experiment with electromagnets, which creates an entirely different system on how the sound may be generated. This could also allow the the chimes to work independently without needing a user to hold a magnet to interact with the chimes.

Reading Assignment 2

Amplifying the Uncanny explores the boundaries of what makes a generated image fake but reversing the generative process and to exaggerate the imitated features of Deepfakes. By producing these unreal images through manipulating the generator, the divide between natural and man-made is clearly evident, proving the vulnerabilities of a mechanical system no matter how

The uncanny is a psychological or aesthetic experience that can be characterised as observing something familiar that is encountered in an unsettling way. In art, feelings of the uncanny are often evoked to explore boundaries between what is living and what is machine. According to Sigmund Freud, the uncanny is the instance when something is familiar yet alien at the same time. The concept is that it is unknown yet also brings out something hidden or repressed. Freud suggests that the unsettling phenomenon occurs in relation to what is known of old and long familiar.

The uncanny valley by Masahiro Mori depicts the relationship between affinity/ familiarity to human likeness for still and animated objects. The graph explains that familiarity increase as human likeness increase, however when the human likeness increase to a certain point our familiarity with the object decreases drastically as the uncanniness evokes a sense of eeriness. This study of the human likeness of an object and our familiarity or affinity with it is crutial to study as it could inform us better on how to make object more human like yet familiar, especially in the field of prosthetics where achieving human likeness and affinity would help the user profoundly with their daily lives. 

The tendency to imitate nature has long been a concern in art, with certain sculptors and painters earning recognition purely for the ability to create lifelike artworks that viewers marvel at. Art forms like bonsai and ikebana also take a natural object directly and render them with the human hand to create something that is nature like, but not natural. Perhaps what makes the GAN framework create unsettling images is because the algorithm may be created by humans, however the generation is completely mechanical and robotic, a pattern too perfect that it could not be natural, that makes this form of imitating nature an eerie experience as compared to non mechanical art forms.

Project 1 Generative Study Process

This generative study aims to using magnets to manipulate natural objects to create spontaneous and random sounds

The first trial was done using corals. The magnets were initially hanging side by side however the attraction was too strong which did not cause movement, and I had to move the hold the magnet instead to manipulate the hanging magnet.

Second structure using an acrylic rod and wood.

The current trials were constructed individually, and from here on I will experiment with joining the structures together, as using other objects like stone and charcoal.

Exploratory Project 1

Reinventing the way wind chimes interact with nature using magnets

Wind chimes are a type of percussion instrument that created sound when they catch the wind. In East Asian culture, they are said to frighten away birds and lurking evil spirits. Wind chimes create sound in a chance based manner.

Project concept: reinvent wind chimes by creating a series of wind chimes made from different natural materials (wood, sea shells, stone etc) and make the individual wind chime structure interact with one another using magnetic forces. The resulting sound should be generated randomly according to the magnetic force.

Reading Assignment 1

Marcus Watz describes generative art as using systems as the computational mode of creativity, thus relying on chance and logic to create a work. It does not constitute an art movement as generative art describes a common strategy for how works are produced through methodology.  Unlike interactive art which exploits the feedback loop of interaction between the system and user, generative art focuses on closed systems and self constructs investigated for their formal and material qualities. This aspect makes generative art more closely related to traditions of drawing and painting than to the relational aesthetics of media art. Inspiration is often drawn from nature as it is myriad of systems beyond human control, and we synthesise these systems and behaviours through computers. Generative art thus typically involves organic and mechanical forms.

Despite generative art being a seemingly new concept due to its computerised tendencies, its core concept of studying and synthesising rules and systems is the very basis of human culture. Fujimoto Yukio, an artist that plays with sound objects in his artworks, states that the mind tends to connect unrelated pieces together to make meaning out of them. This is evident in astrology where celestial objects are studied in relative positions to relate human affairs with terrestrial events.  Humans invented constellations to make meaning out of random stars. The ability to compose music is also done through this method of connecting unrelated and random notes to each other to create a piece, as the human brain feels the need to make these connections and make sense of them. The patterns that our brain synthesise differ from person to person, perhaps making our brain the most fundamental generator.

It is interesting to note that though computer functions are often utilised in generative art, that it is still susceptible to human error and bias. Since computers and machines are made by humans, perhaps even computerised functions can be considered organic.