The Enlightenment Turns Light And Noise Into Sound

We’re all familiar with the subtle sounds of electrical equipment present in daily life. There’s the high-pitched whine of a CRT, the mains hum of a poorly isolated audio amplifier, and the wailing screams of inductors. Typically these sounds go unnoticed unless something is malfunctioning or otherwise wrong. However, Quiet Ensemble decided to capture these noises and turned them into a performance they call The Enlightenment.

The basic setup consists of a series of lights, most of which are theatrical in nature. There are spotlights, a series of neons, and even a few bright strobes. Copper coils are used to pick up the stray electrical noises generated by these lights in operation. These noises are then fed to mixers, amplifiers, and other audio equipment to allow the performers to control the audio as they wish.

The end result is a mechanical, and at times, brutal soundscape that wouldn’t sound out of place on the Homeworld soundtrack. Flashing strobes contribute rhythm while the rest of the lights lend their droning and whining to fill out the ensemble.

If it’s a little too niche for your tastes, the Triforium may be more to your liking. Video after the break.


24 thoughts on “The Enlightenment Turns Light And Noise Into Sound

    1. Well that was the best 3 minutes of my day- I would pay to see that much longer.

      The level of skill it takes to do this both as an electrician and a musician is off the charts.

      That was actually really impressive at least for me.


          They’re making sound not music.

          FWIW I thought it was cool, and I’m not involved in the project. I do have a tech theatre background though, so maybe that’s why it got my attention.

        2. Music is sound that people enjoy and seek out.

          I have never heard of any of these people, I’m just a weird guy that appreciates the skill that went into this, and I grew up listening to Japanese noise. I listen to the hum of Swiss die mills daily, and find their harmonic frequencies musical.

          Not saying its for you- clearly not your bag, man. But there is no denying the skill involved in producing something like this, even if you personally think the result is garbage. I don’t. But I’m strange and like things on the fringes. Not everyone does.

          Which is curious…why’d you click in the first place then, if you werent ready to explore?

      1. There is a subreddit for stuff like this: “Awful Taste but Great Execution” No doubt a lot of work, skill and knowledge went into this. I’m not sure if this video was a proof of concept or if it was supposed to be an actual performance, but it sounded terrible. And judging from the sounds I heard, this could be arranged into something awesome sounding and looking. Was also annoying to see those guys walking around and adjusting everything. Like leave the camera stationary and let us watch it. Sometimes less is more.

    1. I was anticipating legible audio from known music or sounds like voices played from the devices emissions. This is just raw… art. Though some interesting sounds I guess to catalog for analysis and maybe for background subtraction when analyzing sounds from these devices if you’re into that.

      I was thinking the article can use an epileptic seizure warning.

        1. Oh man that is hilarious!

          I actually I have a friend that was teaching circuit bending to young kids, and by night, a noise musician who is quite skilled. Haven’t seen him for a while but I hope he sees this and laughs

    2. There is a genre of experimental music called noise. I am serious. This qualifies heavily as noise.

      A Japanese artist, Akafumi Nakajima (known by stage name Aube) did many albums similar to this. One was entirely the sound of electrical fluorescent ballasts.

      Yes, it sounds insane and often is. Welcome to music as art. Some of it is pretty cool, like 4 tone arms on a single record, or contact mics on broken glass being chewed on. I have seen Lucas Abela do that live. Don’t judge- experience the beauty of weird.

        1. mad props to both of you. John Cage was a pioneer and nearly invented the concept of music from non musical things.

          As for Merzbow- I saw him live in Osaka in 2006 while studying Japanese in Osaka at Konan University for my degree. My first noise show.

          Find your local noise artists and go see a show- there have to be a ton of you out there given the amount of people who love weird music and are skilled hackers as hackaday shows daily!

  1. how about instead to collect all the essence of the scum of the streets, you know the very few who can ruin all the normal people’s lives and turn that into art and call it social justice

    1. Can’t someone just have an open mind, be on enough drugs, or just, you know, want to really explore the fringes of something new?

      Man, used to be that people who like things comment and people who don’t maybe there’s one or two but they don’t come out of the woodwork to hate on a post.

      I cannot do electrical wizardry on par with most of what this site posts though I have many friends that do. That doesn’t mean I’m ready to degrade anyone that appreciates a post.

      This is pure electronics as music and art, plenty of people love both of those without an art degree or inherent pretentiousness.

      Kind of surprising actually that on a site that is about bending and hacking the intended world around us that people seemed to come out of the woodwork to hate on a great example of what can be done with that mindset.

      I understand it’s not for everybody but to discount the work involved in actually making something like this exist especially on a site that is literally the Incarnation of all of this it’s kind of sad and tells me there is more narrow-mindedness in the maker and hacker community than I thought

      1. I have thought about this as well. It’s strange that hacker community seems to have a closed mind towards what is essentially hacking of art. I have seen it in the comments every time something art related is posted here. I was actually surprised to find some people not bashing this… Art. FWIW, I found the performance intriguing and moving, while also cold and raw.

  2. Interesting ambient creation for sure. Lots of video editing and sound as well, less performance more edited work though. Listening on a surround system it is disappointing mono mix, not the spacey thing it is trying to be.

  3. Well that was interesting. In terms of the sound, it is not quite to my tastes, however with the right sequencing, I can see it being turned into something a little more conventional sounding. It reminds me of the intro to Pink Floyd’s Welcome to the Machine.

  4. Wow, I loved that! I was impressed with the diversity of frequencies captured. I was half-expecting strictly fundamental and harmonics of 60Hz or 50Hz. But It was pretty awesome. I would love to see this live and unedited. I found the sounds to be quite pleasing and musical.

    The camera work and editing was a bit of a distraction, however.

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