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This is a wonderful project made by one of my favorite creators of beautiful whimsey, Niklas Roy and his friend La belle Imira for Berlin’s Museum Night. He calls it a “water powered multi channel sound installation”. I call it awesome.

Imira and I connected the huge water wheel in the outside area of Berlin’s Museum of Technology via a very long rope with several tiny music boxes, each playing a different melody. The 300m long looped rope makes its way in a zig-zag course over more than a dozen pulleys through the museum’s garden. About every second pulley has a music box connected to its axle, so the whole garden is covered with a beautiful water powered sound cloud.

The water wheel is part of an old forge. It was used to drive massive hammers inside the forge, but because there’s a transmission belt missing, since a few years it only spins for decorative purposes. What makes the setup a bit weird, is, that the forge was originally located somewhere else. The museum bought it and transported it to Berlin, while there was no river or any other running water close to the spot where it is set up now. So they installed two artificial ponds, a higher and a lower one. The water which runs from the higher to the lower pond drives the water wheel. And, of course, they’ve installed an electric pump which transports the water in a closed circuit back to the higher pond.

So basically our setup is a gigantic Rube Goldberg mechanism, which consists of two artificial ponds, an electric water pump, a water wheel, 300 metres of rope, seventeen pulleys and eight music boxes.

Wasserklang Modulsystem

John Edgar Park

John Edgar Park likes to make things and tell people about it. He works in CG animation at DisneyToon Studios and writes for Make, Boing Boing, and other places online and in print. You can find him at jpixl.net and twitter @johnedgarpark — if you like that sort of thing.


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