When I was working on sound design for a game here last semester, I ended up using induction microphones to capture the electromagnetic fields from electronic devices.
In theory, a color changing bulb will emit different wavelengths as it produces different colors. Dimming and flickering lights should also produce different sonic results.
Using Max MSP, I should be able to control lighting fixtures from a laptop. The induction mics will pick up the changes in lightbulb behavior and send them back into a USB audio interface. From there, further signal processing of the electromagnetic responses can happen inside Max. That audio will then be sent to a speaker system.
I’m curious how the two systems will play off each other. What visuals will “sound good”? Will the desired sound affect the way the lights behave? The visuals would then be informed by what kind of sonic information I want to create — rhythms, pulses, different pitches.
I’m a bit worried on both the cost of the rig, and making sure Max works properly with the equipment. There are custom externals to control DMX via Max already, and I’ve chosen some hardware that already seems to be supported. Still, using open source software tends to always have some weird bugs or problems I couldn’t anticipate. I think the value of learning how to control DMX for future projects makes it worth it — it has a lot of potential for live visuals and installations.
Here’s a little mockup/flowchart of the rig I’m thinking of: