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Robert van Dijk's personal portfolio website

Zen and the Art of Equalising


2005 – With Ivo Vos & Michel Peeters

We probably all know someone who is an absolute audiophile; someone who spends a fortune on the most brilliant audio system money can buy. This system is built for that person: it uses analog sensors to measure columns of water and adjust the equalizer accordingly. The audio lover then has the ability to fill the column with a bucket, or using a pipette. The product challenges our obsession with specifications and triggers a discussion of the value of dynamic, living systems; the water in the columns evaporates over time, requiring the audiophile to constantly adjust his system, to keep it optimally tuned.

We divided the frequencies in bass, mid tones and treble. Each water pillar represents one of these ranges. By changing the water levels in the pillars the sound is adjusted. The interaction is based on the process of equalizing; a loop with ever smaller circles. You start with a rough estimation of the right levels using big glasses to pour large amounts of water. You then go into detail using the smaller glasses and taps to tinker the sound further. Finally – for the real audiophiles – use precision instruments like the pipette for sublime precision. The choice for water as a medium makes these analogue and precise adjustments possible.

Adding flowers in the pillars turns the product into a combination of a vase and equalizer. The water-drinking flowers would add an interesting natural dynamic to the system. I mostly focused on the electronics and prototyping work for this project.

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