Ensemble Mechatronic

Rise, serraE, Kinetic.bowls


Blake Johnston (NZ)

Jon He (NZ/SG)

Bridget Johnson (NZ/AU)


Ensemble mechatronic is a collaborative art project that features a collection of mechatronic sound sculptures exploring sonic space. The three works leverage the precision and expression of emerging mechatronic technologies to create immersive sonic experiences. Together, the collection seeks to activate space through sound, mapping the architecture and sonic possibilities of the environment. Kinetic.bowls is a sound sculpture that investigates sonic space through movement. Two rotating bowls project subtle sonic bursts into the space, bouncing off the walls and mapping the sonic terrain. As their rotation comes in and out of phase, complex spatial patterns emerge. serraE is an ensemble of mechatronic scraper-class percussions, which is a modern re-visioning of the traditional Chinese yu. It features 27 square serates that which are scraped with a bamboo brush creating a rush of texture and an interplay of spatial movement. Rise is a physical manifestation of an eternally accelerating rhythm. The Risset rhythm is a paradoxical illusion that exhibits the seemingly impossible behaviour of a rhythmic phrase that constantly accelerates in tempo, yet continue looping forever. The musical and artistic explorations of this phenomenon are rare, and limited to the digital realm. Rise explores this illusion acoustically, and in an austere aesthetic in order to reveal how the illusion is created.



serraE diagram


Artist Biography:

Blake Johnston is a sound artist, technologist, academic, and composer from Aotearoa, New Zealand. His practice sits at the intersection of experience design and emerging forms of technology, synthesising these fields to explore the perception of the audience. His work adopts new forms of technology to create environments and experiences across multiple disciplines including live performance, kinetic sculpture, musical mechatronics, wearable technology, and installation art.

Bridget Johnson creates immersive sound installations and performances that heighten the audiences experience and perception of space. Her work focuses on exploring the way sound can move through space and developing new interfaces to allow composers and performers to further explore expressivity through real time spatialisation in their work. Her installations explore these themes in combination with site-specificity and abstraction of time. Her works have been shown in the United States, Europe, Singapore, South Korea, Australia and New Zealand.

Jon He is an experimental sound and integrated media artist, and researcher. He works within a hybridized culture of physical computing, machine learning, and digital signal processing — exploring the frontiers of sonic expression and experience (input and output) using emerging technologies. Jon’s works draw upon ancient sonic practices and bring ancient sound worlds to contemporary practice through re-visioning them as gestural controllers, interactive systems and mechatronic musical instruments for installations and live performances.

Project Credits:

This project is supported by Massey University.