Derek Hoffend | Optimizer
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About This Project


September, 2009 – June 2010

Size: 13′ x 13′ x 13′

Materials:  Steel, Sound, Speakers, Computer and Amplification Gear

Optimizer is a large icosahedron shape containing twelve speakers, wherein sounds can move around an entire spherical zone, panning from speaker to speaker. It is an exploration in 360 degree spherical motion, as well as spatial audio-synthesis and perception.

Harmonics are frequencies that are multiples of a fundamental frequency, or a ‘base’ starting frequency. Every complex sound is made of any number of frequencies, many of which exist in harmonic relationships and assist in creating the ‘color’ or ‘timbre’ of the sound (among other factors). Sounds can be analyzed and broken into sine-wave components of varying amplitudes at different frequencies. We normally perceive a sound in its entirety, as a whole. In this piece, I am using sets of twelve harmonics composed of sine-waves, but instead of playing them all at once from the same source, each one rotates independently around the speakers in the icosahedron. This rotation as well as vibrato and amplitude levels are semi-randomized, creating a sound that is constantly evolving and modulating, while maintaining the same harmonic structure. The listener inside the icosahedron performs the ‘mixing’ of these frequencies on site, blending or synthesizing them in space.

Frequencies chosen for this work have been associated with achieving clarity, awareness, balance, and a sense of well-being. As exhibited in the show “Metatron: Sessions in Sonic Alchemy”, viewers were asked to write down an intention related to personal growth and direction before entering this piece.

The piece also explores my interest in relationships between vibration and physical form – both architecturally as form related to the human body and its senses, as well as atomically. The idea of electrons rotating around a core as described not only as a particle in motion but as a wave-field also finds a partial analogy here.