Speak to the Seed of Life and watch your voice become a pattern. The seed of life uses and electret microphone to listen to the ambient environment, then passes that signal to an MSG EQ7 chip which breaks the sound down into 7 bands and their associated signal strengths. An Arduino Nano reads the output of the MSG EQ7 and interfaces with 420 WS2811 RGB LED pixels installed in 7 polypropylene loops. When silence is detected for a user-configurable period, the seed drops into breath white mode and “heart beats” slowly. The colors correspond to the frequency high to low, R-O-Y-G-B-I-V; Bass is RED, My voice tends to hang in yellows and oranges, and the highest frequencies are Indigo and Violet.
This project was inspired by a call for Art Grant Proposals for Scorched Nuts (Ohio’s regional Burning Man event), which starts TODAY. This piece will be installed at the event for its 5 day duration. I say “Completed” because it’s never truly done until all of the flash program ROM is full, and I’ve got 10KB left!
Capabilities Silence Detection: when all 7 bands remain below the threshold point for silence for that band, the seed “heart beats” slowly in white. This is also done to save battery power on the deep cycle sealed lead acid battery that will be powering the piece for 4 days at Scorched Nuts. The silence threshold is configurable via encoder+button wheel interface, and includes a real time display of the strength of each channel in its menu mode. The user is shown two bright white pixels at the current threshold setting while the ring lights up in the color associated with the band to the instantaneous reading of signal strength. Those thresholds are saved to the Arduino’s onboard EEPROM and are loaded at startup so that settings persist, and can be changes without the aid of a computer (good for an art piece that works in the middle of nowhere.) When not-silent audio is detected, the entire seed becomes the color of the corresponding frequency band. A bass “wake up” would yield an all-red flower that is then drawn over in normal mode, where a higher pitched “wake up” would yield green, blue, indigo or violet flower. In this way the piece is never quite the same twice.
Bass Detection When the signal on channel 0 (Bass, 63Hz center frequency) exceeds the threshold set for bass beat detection, a delay is induced such that the next pixel in each loop is drawn 100mS later, and the overall speed of the cursor moving around the circle slows until that bass hit stops. Has a high limit such that it’s not constant triggered.
High Hat Detection When the signal on channel 5 or 6 (two highest) is exceeds the silence threshold for that channel, a flicker is displayed. This flicker is the result of drawing the NEXT LED to 75% brightness in the corresponding band color. It appears to flicker because that 75% brightness is immediately drawn over when the next sample is taken.
Permutation During normal operation, the order of the outer 6 circles is rotated so that each color is in the same spot for about 3 minutes, then gently slides over to the next circle. Again, the piece is never the same twice.