Sonic Signature

Sound art installation

Imperial College


Sonic Signature is a captivating visual experience that illustrates how the physical parameters of sound influence its perception. Laser beams trace dazzling patterns in the dark – a physical visualisation of sound – with the pattern's appearance shaped by sound amplitude and frequency.

This installation involves a laser directed at a membrane-mounted mirror, which responds to vibrating air molecules produced by a nearby sound source. The resulting movement of the mirror causes the laser beams to create intricate and unique patterns.

Key challenges

How to create an immersive yet intuitive visitor-installation interaction? How to adopt an experimental approach to installation design?

Role in my team

The team explored diverse approaches to visualise harmonies, chords, and percussions. Sub-teams were formed, each dedicated to a particular visualisation scenario, and tasked with developing individual software packages. My team focused on representing human vocalisations and exploring their impact on the singing experience.


Design installation • real-time signal processing (Max MSP)

Installation set up

The installation is set in the dark to create an immersive sound experience. The left and right speakers respectively control a scattered green beam and a single red beam, enabling the generation of two distinct patterns on the black board. The intricate patterns traced out by the laser beams are called Lissajous curves.

Visual effects

As a team we experimented with various songs to observe their effects on patterns. We observed that pure tones produce precise shapes, while complex sound combinations result in less distinguishable patterns. As such, we attempted to enhance artistic effects by employing signal processing techniques to separate harmonies, percussions, and chords.

Visitor interaction

As my team’s focus was on human vocalisations, we crafted an interaction where visitors can sing into the microphone to generate the carrier signal, and simultaneously accompany their voice by playing notes on the synthesiser (modulator signal). The Max MSP code solution, which process in real-time the modulator and carrier signal.