Fermentophone is a multi-sensory installation in which an algorithmically generated musical composition is performed by living cultures of bacteria and yeast. The installation comprises a series of different vessels containing actively fermenting foodstuffs and beverages, wired with electronic sensors. Each colorful, odorous, and edible ferment has its own musical vocabulary which is expressed according to microbial activity.

The installation has been presented in various versions at the Hacking Arts festival at the MIT Media Lab, Wisconsin’s Farm/Art DTour, the Boston Fermentation Fest, Expo ’74 at MASS MoCA, and the Harvard Museum of Natural History.


Hi Joshua,
I presume the coils around the fermentation tubes
are connected to the sound generation chip as
note keyers, and not that the actual sound comes from that coil. Is that how this works?
I suppose you might do the same with the coil signal going to a midi output chip with note and velocity, that goes to a midi synth for a whole array of sounds.
Anyway, nice work.


I’m so proud that my son’s artistic research is on the leading edge of cultural fermentation. Keep flourishing, O Josh!

Music to enjoy with a nice glass of kombucha. Wondering if you eat the musicians?

Leave a Reply