Digital Arts and New Media: MFA: Collaboration, Innovation, Social Impact

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Nathaniel Ober: The Orrey Harp

Nathan Ober "The Orrey Harp"

The Orrery Harp is an autonomous musical instrument designed to play a composition based on the movements of planetary bodies in motion around the sun. The instrument includes nine strings representing each planet in our solar system, including the dwarf planet, Pluto. Frequency is determined by the rotational period of a given planet (day), while rhythm is determined by the planet’s period of orbit around the sun (year). Each string is activated by an electromagnetic pulse to induce harmonic resonance as a planet reaches its starting point, or yearly cycle. One Earth year is scaled to 36.24 seconds on the Orrery Harp.

Nathan Ober is a new media artist whose work crosses disciplines from installation and performance to video and sound. His current research is focused on astronomy and astrophysics, and deals with techniques of sonification and processes that attempt to expose our innate connection to the universe. Video by Dani Williamson.