Sound Shades, TU-Delft Residency, Crossing Parallels

Today, the Delft University of Technology and TodaysArt reveal a new partnership: together they will launch an artist-in-residence programme. In this unique cross-disciplinary programme, residency artists and university departments will collaborate on research projects and work together towards the realization of new artworks. The results will be presented during the TodaysArt festival and other festivals and events in Europe and internationally. The pilot phase of this project will start this year with artist Mike Rijnierse teaming up with the faculty of applied sciences and fashion designer Iris van Herpen and her team working with industrial design and architecture.


This residency programme extends and expands on the long history of collaboration and cross-pollination between art and technology, seen most clearly in the use or reflection on technology by artists. During this residency, invited artists will get the opportunity to engage in a multi-directional exchange, integrating their creativity and fresh perspectives with scientific methods and educational formats. It is precisely this exchange that lies at the heart of this programme. Art and science are disciplines which share many similarities: both are forms of research into the unknown and undiscovered and both contribute to the development of new visions. Social, cultural, economic and, above all, ethical issues are becoming more and more complex, and increasingly intertwined with one another. Collaborations between various fields of expertise are needed to deal with and engage this complexity. With a strong belief in the importance of sharing knowledge between different scientific domains, the residency has been structured with an interfaculty approach—creating a platform where scientific disciplines can come together through the intersection of art. The goal of this partnership is to connect the high quality research climate of the TU Delft with the artistic network of TodaysArt—emphasising the value of interaction and exchange among different disciplines, but also between an institute of knowledge and a creative organisation. Both partners consider this urgent and necessary act of joining forces, of opening up the university, to be an inspiring and fruitful addition to the discourses of science and art.

TodaysArt presents urgent and topical contemporary creative expressions (both local and international) in the fields of visual (digital) art, audiovisual productions and experimental electronic music, to a wide audience. The organization contributes to the makers climate and the infrastructure of talent development, both in art and the creative industry, through commissions and cross-sector collaborations. TodaysArt is thrilled to have the opportunity to share knowledge and network with the TU Delft.

Sound Shades

Ever since Rijnierse started his research on light and color, he imagined to develop a kind of glasses that could modulate the state of its optical properties, like brightness, color and even structure in order to cause diffraction. If it would be possible to modulate these properties using a microprocessor, these glasses would be an instrument to turn our vision into ‘music for the eyes’.
These qualities could be implemented by use of thin-film optics. A branch of optics that deals with very thin structured layers of different materials. In order to exhibit thin-film optics, the thickness of the layers of material must be on the order of the wavelengths of visible light (about 500 nm). Layers at this scale can have remarkable reflective properties due to light wave interference and the difference in refractive index between the layers, the air, and the substrate. These effects alter the way the optic reflects and transmits light. This effect, known as thin-film interference, is observable in soap bubbles and oil slicks.

2017-06-07 17.39.36

Having discussed these subjects with the Optical Research Group the conclusion was that it is still too complex and too expensive to modulate different optical properties in thin-film optics. Therefore the research group has decided to develop this project using LCD (Liquid Crystal Display).

2017-06-08 18.00.54

The operation of a LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is based on the effect that the liquid crystals in the display are able to turn the polarization direction of light. If an electrical voltage is applied, the polarization will not be reversed. The liquid crystal consists of rod-shaped complex molecules which interact in mutual interaction with a spiral structure, each molecule being twisted relative to the underlying molecule. When this liquid crystal terminates in a polarization direction that does not pass through the last polarization filter, the subpixel is black (no light emits), the less light the filter enters, the darker the tint, the color of the subpixel is not affected by this but The amount of color, however, because 3 (or 4) subpixels work together, the pixel assumes a mix color with a certain amount of each color.

The LCD itself is only a light valve and does not generate light; the light comes from a backlight. Therefore, when disassembled the LCD Matrix functions as a window. This makes it possible to develop the kind of glasses the artist has in mind. Currently Mike Rijnierse is researching with the help of specialists to come to a compact design including electronics and wireless accessibility to the microprocessor, that controls the optical properties of the LCD. The limitations of these aspects will define the final design of Sound Shades.