AMS Spring 2023

Digital Synesthesia: REIFY Turns Your Favorite Song into a 3D Printed Sculpture

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9323626_300x300Think about how many times you’ve heard a tune on the radio and said, “That’s my song.” What would it look like if you could take it to the next dimension, and hold it in your hand? Further, what if you could turn simple sounds or phrases—or even speeches—into sculpture? How might a baby’s first words look?

It’s often not enough just to hear beautiful music and then let it go. We become so inspired that we want to own it ourselves through other media, often through visualization—and upon fruition, truly showing the level of inspiration and motivation in the artist, because it’s not an easy thing to do. After all, how would you go about expressing music through art? The team at REIFY is answering that question, in 3D.

Headquartered in New York, REIFY’s art is in making waves—sound waves–into stunning 3D printed sculptures. Using unusual 3D printing materials like plastic, bronze, and coconut husk, the team has invented a way for artists to make sculptures that “explore the variegated potential of sound waves.” Not just a one-off by some casual artsy-craftsy folks, this team has experience and education in design, technology, programming, and the art of transforming parametric systems.

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‘Spin, Spin’ by Gordon Lightfoot

REIFY has created a custom software that in essence, creates sculpture out of music—or practically any sound. Furthering the complexity of this incredible venture into the translation of the auditory, they’ve designed a way for your 3D printed sculpture to actually play the auditory inspiration back to you through their smartphone app.

“REIFY transforms sound into something we can see, sculpt, and hold,” says the REIFY team on their blog. “Using 3-D digital technologies, we build collaborative tools for creating cross-sensory experiences of sound.”

The process is fairly simple:

  • Artists use the REIFY tools to ‘sculpt’ their translation.
  • Each of these interpretations is made into a 3D printed sculpture.
  • The work can be shared either as sculpture or music interchangeably.

The team has been producing their work using the MakerBot Replicator 1.

main - “How Music Works” by David Byrne

‘How Music Works’ by David Byrne

Music and art have collided throughout the ages as designers and creators have endeavored to express the emotion and beauty that lyrics and accompanying instruments invoke. Most definitely lending itself to the subjective and the abstract, interpretation of music through other artistic media is not only a challenge for the artist, but also most certainly a joy as they relive that feeling most of us are familiar with that’s associated with our favorite music.

Most of REIFY’s current work in digital synesthesia consists of 3D printed sculptures created from single tracks, including everything from country music to that of David Byrne. They are working on producing their sculptures in more extended form, like that of an entire album.

A product of ‘museum incubator’ New, Inc., REIFY offers one of the hottest new ideas around, and is one of the biggest successes to come out of New, a non-profit founded by Allison Wood in 2013. In coordination with New York City’s New Museum, the incubator concept encompasses a worksharing space and a development program for artists, designers, and new innovators in technology.

The REIFY team members, composed of Wood, Kei Gowda (technology), creative coder David Lobser (coding), and Christine Whitehall (UX/UI designer), are currently opening their own studio in Bushwick, independent of the museum but with still plenty of future collaborating planned with both the New Museum and the NEW INC program.

What song would you like to see made into a 3D printed sculpture? Have you attempted to translate music or sound into a 3D printed form yourself? Share with us in the REIFY forum thread over at 3DPB.com. Check out a look at the process and app in the video below.

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‘Ride of the Valkyries’ by Richard Wagner

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