Energy conversion is present in various daily lives, although it often goes unnoticed. “Phonovoltaic Effect” explores this widespread but often overlooked physical reality by transforming kinetic energy into sonic fluctuation.
This installation, conceptualized during my residency at the V2_Lab for the Unstable Media in the Netherlands, creates an interactive sensory panorama using solar panels, hand-crank generators, and hanging botanical elements. In this context, the solar panels go beyond their conventional purpose. By collaborating with hand-crank generators and diverse lighting equipment, they become musical interfaces modulated by different light intensities and frequencies. This installation engages the audience visually and auditorily while subtly influencing the plants’ growth during the exhibition.
The solar panels act as intermediaries, converting light variations into sound frequencies. Through contact transducers, they cause the containers holding the plants to resonate, generating sound, which embodies the endless possibilities of energy conversion and reflects our interactions with nature and technology.
“Phonovoltaic Effect” aims to serve as a catalyst, stimulating fresh perceptions and cognitive engagement with everyday phenomena. The seamless transition between photonic and phononic energies serves as a poetic metaphor for the interconnectedness between micro and macro levels of the ecosystem.
Inspired by Li-Fi technology, a method of transmitting data using light instead of radio waves, the “Phonovoltaic Effect” also draws upon historical signal transmission and espionage methods that utilized light waves and solar panels. In the circuitry, a capacitor is integrated to filter out any DC currents that could damage audio equipment, thus allowing the solar panels to focus on capturing fluctuating light frequencies and converting them into sound.
The variability in light sources causes the solar panels to produce different sound frequencies, akin to a musical instrument generating various pitches. Various types of light are employed to create a diversified sonic landscape. These sounds are further refined and manipulated through multiple methods, including but not limited to physical modeling and signal feedback.
This project was realized as part of the Summer Sessions of V2_Lab for the Unstable Media and sponsored by National Taiwan Fine Arts Museum. More information on the V2 website.