Physical Grainclouds: Granular Sound Art in the Physical World


Session Title:

  • Machinic Sense & Sensibility: Interaction and Embodiment

Presentation Title:

  • Physical Grainclouds: Granular Sound Art in the Physical World



  • Compositions and sonic artworks focusing on microsounds and granular systems have, since the emergence of these concepts, remained largely realized within digital environments. This paper focuses on a number of works that may be examined in the context of such granular/microsound systems. General definitions of microsounds, sonic grains, and grainclouds are provided, after which three characteristics common to physical grain clouds are discussed. From these three characteristics, artistic elements that appear in many physical grain cloud artworks are presented, including a focus on materiality, spatio-temporality, and audiovisual emergent behavior. The paper concludes with close examinations of three selected works: Céleste Boursier-Mougenot’s clinamen, Pe Lang’s moving objects | nº 692 – 803, and Tectonic, a new work created by the author as a case study inspired by the physical grain cloud artworks discussed throughout this paper.