Before the arrival of truly wireless earphones like Earin and Apple's AirPods, mobile music lovers will likely have been regularly troubled with tangle. It seems that no matter how carefully you stow away your buds, by the time you break them out to relieve travel tedium, the cables are a jumbled mess. Such trials have inspired Russian media artist Dmitry Morozov to create the volnovod, a machine that turns twisted cables into eerie sounds.
Morozov – the creative mind behind the pyrite sun sound generator and the electropollock painter – says that he came up with the idea for volnovod after noticing that some of the shapes in the chaotic tangled mess of his iPod earbud cables looked very much like complex wave patterns.
After musing on a machine that would deliberately twist headphone wire and capture digital images of the created shapes to influence sound synthesis, he set about building what he says is a combination of a kinetic sound sculpture and a novel controller.
The device has a stepper motor left and right attached to either end of a cable. Random number-based software causes the motors to deliberately twist the cable mounted below a digital camera. The camera captures the shapes against a dark background, with nine wave shape images being saved. An algorithm then transforms the image data into parameter controls for synthesized sound.
An LCD computer monitor display the changing wave patterns, and the constantly changing shapes can be updated in full auto, semi-automatic or manual modes. MIDI, OSC and CV format compatibility means that the output can be used by the machine itself via a two-channel sound system or to feed external synth hardware.
As you can see and hear in the video below, the sonic output isn't going to get anyone bopping to the beat but could provide some atmospheric help for B-movie sci-fi remakes.