Interactive Sound Sculpture
Echidna is an interactive sound sculpture. When you touch it a sound emerges from the sculpture – like a creature that has its own (electronic) voice. It is made of coloured wire, like a messy line drawing infused with life and shaped to create a magnetic field. When touched, Echidnas’ electromagnetic field is disturbed and it will squeak and react to react to human presence. Echidna is the name of an Australian hedgehog that some scientists believe has the ability to perceive electromagnetic fields. The sculpture also has this ability. When you touch Echidna, or disturb the electromagnetic field around it, a sound emerges from the sculpture.
Echidna explores the properties of materials and the affordance of technology, merging the two into a small playful animated sculpture. It invites physical interaction and plays on an element of surprise. A key element of an electromagnetic field is that it reacts to water and, as we know, a human body is made up of around 60% water, thereby making people the ideal interface in a tactile and physical interaction. Often the audience, when exploring and playing with the artwork, will try to touch it with a piece of paper, discovering that nothing will happen. Electromagnetic fields are, in fact, present everywhere in the natural world but are invisible to the human eye, the artwork therefore has an element of surprise by producing an invisible interactive field, which is only ‘revealed’ by touch and physical interaction
The work sits on a plinth with bespoke electronics inside.
Echidna is made in different colours and sizes.
China Science & Technology Museum 2012.
Banbury Museum, UK 2011.
Kinetica Art Fair, 2011.
SIGGRAPH, LA, USA, 2010.
Hub: National Centre for Craft & Design, UK 2009.
Royal Cornwall Museum, UK 2008.
The Shire Hall Gallery, UK 2007.
Richard Attenborough Centre, Leicester, UK 2006.
Bankside Gallery, London, UK 2006.
Royal British Sculptors Gallery, London, UK 2005.
The Big Blip 03, Festival of creative arts, science and technology, Brighton, UK 2003.
Aarhus Kunstbygning (Centre for Contemporary Art), Denmark 2002.
I loved playing with your work – I talked to so many strangers. I become more social.
There is something about this piece that compels you to touch it, it looks fun and springy. When you do give it a prod it reacts by squeaking at you in a very cute way. It gives it a life and I wanted to take it home as a pet!
–Audience at Kinetica Art fair 2011
“its like a cartoon”
-Young boy at Kinetica Art fair 2011
Echidna has been a very popular exhibit (many fascinated and appreciative visitors, including people with visual impairments and people with special learning needs) – in fact I think it seems to be one of the highlights, especially among young people. And we have just had a dad and son coming in asking for “the hedgehog”. Seems it was a word of mouth recommendation from friends saying they should go and see your work.
–Dale Johnston, Events & Exhibitions Officer, Banbury Museum 2011
What a wonderful exhibition, we especially liked the bundle of wire that changed sounds as you touched it.
-Visitors to Royal Cornwall Museum, Blind Art Touching Art Touching you.