Vox Voxel

2014, 3D printer and realtime processing, Ambisonics

John Granzow, Fernando Lopez-Lezcano

Program Notes

From an IBM 720 line printer playing "Three Blind Mice" in 1954 to dot matrix printers playing love songs and Queen, mechanical noises coming from printers were slowly tamed, domesticated and controlled, and countless unproductive hours of programming time were spent in figuring out how to make those noises into musical notes, phrases and whole pieces for the enjoyment of the IT team. From deafening antique mainframe line printers to whisper quiet inkjets, all have been at the spotlight of a concert performance (or at least a basement computer room).

VoxVoxel is "composed" by designing a suitably useless 3D shape and capturing the sound of the working 3D printer using piezoelectric sensors. Those sounds are amplified, modified and multiplied through live processing in a computer using ardour and LV2/LADSPA plugins, and output in full matching 3D sound. 3D pixels in space.

The piece is dedicated to our endangered wooden 3d printer, slowly declining with the rise of folded metal frames in entry-level machines. The wood, (if fragile) is good for contact vibrations, to amplify rhythms of the tool-path and the frequencies of stepper motors. This rare 3d printer takes six minutes to warm up its extruder. For this, it has also fabricated an array of extensions for its equally endangered human performer.

  • I. warmup
  • II. extrusion
  • III. layering