Community Beacons, Kinetic Light Drums

We are McCormack and Figg, artists and designers who began collaborating in 2009 after recognizing mutual interests in energy, technology and the changing environment. Our main interests are to explore sustainability, alternative energy production and transforming public space. Together we solve complex design and aesthetic challenges in our work while negotiating logistical requirements.

We are excited about this opportunity presented by Jack Daniels and Instructables to help us develop our user-powered kinetic light instruments into a truly iconic brand.

Kinetic Light Drums are exciting interactive sculptures that leverage the potentials of music and analog technology to enliven audiences with joyous expressions of rhythm and light. When they are played - banged, hit and tapped - the vibrations from the drumhead are converted to electricity by the speaker transducer. Players discover and experiment with complex energy relationships through the drums’ simple mechanics.

We will use the award money to further the development this project, specifically, working with materials and production engineers to design custom enclosures that can withstand professional and outdoor use. Our goal is to develop the drums as large permanent public outdoor sculptures as well as manufacture high quality instruments for professional musicians and enthusiasts.

We were inspired to make drums that light up with only kinetic energy while watching a spirited drum circle at an outdoor community festival in Ohio. Our goal is to retain the spiritual and technical roots of our concept.

We enjoy the refined expression and economy of artists James Turrell and Dan Flavin who create space with light. Other influences include the Oceanianic slit gong drums used for communication and the Ute Native American quartz crystal ceremonial rattles which produce small amounts of light when shaken. The technical inspiration for the work comes by way of Beatles recording engineer Geoff Emerick, who is first credited with using a loudspeaker as a microphone to record bass guitar in 1966.

Kinetic Light Drums inspire everyone to explore alternative energy generation, sound visualization and personal expression. We see the light drums as powerful objects that will connect audiences across borders and boundaries as participants project their own energy out as light. This real time visualization of energy is a reminder of the power we each possess to create positive change and beauty in the world.

Thank you for your time and consideration!

Matthew McCormack b.02/18/1982 and Jenn Figg b.06/23/1974

Original score, "Thunderclap for Six Kinetic Light Drums" written by Paul Cox, performed by Case Western Reserve University Percussion Ensemble: Ryan Hilty. Samuel Haese, and Eric Young.

Jack Daniel's Independence Project Contest

Finalist in the
Jack Daniel's Independence Project Contest



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    4 Discussions


    5 years ago on Introduction

    These look awesome, but I'm a little unsure as to how this is an instructable. Would love some details on how they are made at some stage.