To the untrained eye, macro-cymatic looks like something related to plants, or movies, but definitely something scientific. When I read that Oakland-based Marielle V Jakobsons, the electronic musician who also performs in Date Palms, created a macro-cymatic instrument, my first instinct (following this mental aside about photosynthesis and the like) was to say, “Tell me more!” It’s not every day that a musician creates an entirely new way of experiencing music through the senses, so the intrigue that the scientific-sounding name alone sparked was worth exploring further. Though the concept was hard to wrap the mind around at first, it’s an utterly fascinating sensory experience for anyone to witness, especially when she uses it to make her latest video, “White Sparks.”
The macro-cymatic instrument, explained over-simply, translates sound into water and light, or fluid motion. She created a version of the instrument at the Djerassi Artist Residency. Her sounds move through a thin layer of water, which shows wave projections through LED lights. An exciting development in the current iteration of the instrument is that the LED lights of the instrument are programmable, so she can “program the lights with Arduino to match with elements of different songs in mood and rhythms,” she told to the Creator’s Project. Following this gross stab at explaining the process, here’s Jakobsons discussing the instrument in her own words.
Now, we get to see a final product of this innovative and honestly fascinating technique. The video for “White Sparks” is a transfixing display of diverse textures, created directly from the macro-cymatic instrument with other images overlayed. What’s great (and almost conveniently coincidental) is that the cymatic techniques translated well to the cinematic qualities of the ambient track. If you watch it while keeping in mind that the video was more than influenced by the music, it was created by the music, it might blow your mind a little.