Saturday, 5 April 2014


Photoacoustics as a word is now used in association with various methods of studying electromagnetic activity via acoustic detection in medical and scientific contexts. Originally Alexander Graham Bell & Charles Sumner Tainter discovered the ability to modulate a light source using sound and inversely modulate a sound producing membrane using light when working on their Photophone optical telecommunications system. This line of thinking starting around 1880 with the Photophones invention and continuing right up to the 1920s, eventually made possible inventions like optical sound on film (with all these technologies being indebted to the even earlier discoveries of the photoelectric properties of materials such as selenium). Sound on film interests me a lot in both it's exploitation in the early 20th century by artists and purely for it's interesting technological development. I have gathered a lot of information about the creative use of sound on film but I also became interested to find evidence of still images that recorded sound (also see earlier post on the eidophone) so anyway the first two images are I believe of Bell's experiments from a really cool blog on photography  Homemade Camera 

Second are some images produced by Robert W. Wood using single wave fronts
 produced by sparks, the latter image is a diagram based on the first, I believe.

Last up is the Phonodeik an instrument designed by Dayton Miller
that allows the photography over time of complex sound waves. It
reminds me very much of the earlier Phonautograph but with a
photographic output.

I have allot more stuff to include on this subject including cymatics and optical sound experiments which I left out to cut down the size of this post, but if you have any interesting links I always welcome tips in the comments

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