Hello Nature

Hello Nature – a poetic exploration of what the nature is communicating to us in the form of a audio-visual installation art.

By Joseph Mallonee and Julia Wong



Idea development

We started off being interested in how we can turn nature sounds (birds, crickets, trees…) into short and long dashes so that we could begin to deconstruct nature’s language through Morse code. We were curious of the fact that some people find it easier to compose songs after the lyrics were made, and some vice versa – we wanted to use the melodic nature sounds and see if we could create any meaningful and poetic lyrics.

Final concept and the making of

We eventually came to the idea of creating an installation piece, where we analysed the pitch and brightness of the nature sounds, and created a 2D map using Max MSP. We used it to map each of the 26 alphabets to the sound, so that a specific range of brightness and pitch would match to a specific alphabet character. We then attempt to show those alphabets on screen (in a form of flickering images) by connecting the sound to jitter. We used mathematical expressions and scale to create float outputs, which would control which alphabet image to display on jitter. There are five tracks, linking to five different videos reacting to the respective track and playing at the same time.

Fabrication and Interactive elements

The whole installation include a visor made out of many white-painted branches. The audience can see the video of alphabets through the middle hole of the visor. Apart from just watching the video, we want the audience to be able to play with the tracks and see the ‘lyrics’ from nature manifest on screen. So on the branches visor, there are five golden little branch knobs, one for each track. When you turn them, we aim to have the volume of the respective track increase/decrease, and thus have the video of alphabet reacting to that specific track to change in scale. Joe used Maxuino to send messages from the knobs to our Max patch, and we managed to change the volume, but still have some trouble with the scaling of the video.


We still have some issues to resolve, but the resulting installation is very beautiful. There are times when the five videos show alphabets that would spell a word. If we manage to randomize the positions of the alphabets, we would be able to see clearly what the images are and the connection with the audio will be a lot stronger.


Max patch:

jitter video set up

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 2.52.26 PM

audio analysis

Screen Shot 2015-05-09 at 2.52.04 PM


final maxpatch





Alphabet characters created using objects collected from nature. Photos taken by Julia.




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