Sound and Shadows un projet de Claudine Arendt / Sven Gastauer / Karlien van Leeuwen

Sound and shadows

Inspired by the beauty of acoustic waves we make porcelain cups, bowls and plates. Like shells washed up on the beach, they bare witness to the creatures out there in the ocean. We cast their echoes and trace their shadows. Bringing the start of the foodchain to our kitchen table.

We can peak into the lifes of tiny creatures, barley visible to the naked eye. Only for a moment, as they pass the underwater camera, is their shadow recorded. A chance encounter between the machine out there to help us understand the ocean’s environment and some of the millions of individuals known for being at the start of the foodchain.

As the ship is floating on top of hundreds to thousands of meters of ocean water, hidden by the blue reflection that makes anything beneath invisible to our eyes, it sends out sound waves, travelling towards the bottom of the sea. Anything crossing its path reflects some of that sound.

We developed an algorithm to visualise the sound pattern of those sea creatures.

Image collection
An autonomous glider is travelling the currents off of California for three weeks, continuously diving up and down, 400 meters into the darkness. During its voyage water is flowing through. For a moment it’s lit up and anything that leaves a shadow is recorded in an image. Humbled by the beauty of these elegant, fragile, and fleeting photographs we felt they’d best be looked at while having a meal – all the way up the foodchain – reminding us of the intricacies around us.

Accoustic data
Underwater we’re as blind as a bat. Soundwaves travel fast in water and anything they encounter echoes some of that sound. Interpreting the echo tells us which animals we’re looking at. Wondering if the sound could be visualised, we started playing around with the code. We developed an algorithm that portrays what zooplankton looks like when looking with 200 to 1000 kilohertz down the water column.


The process from 3d model to glazed porcelain took place at the European Ceramics Workcenter. We 3d printed a mould base and half cups to accomodate non-symetrical designs and allowing us to replicate the plaster moulds. The filament leaves marks on the plastic cups that we printed. Like a shell, the rougher outside contrasts with the inside surface, smoothened by porcelain.

We CNC-milled the plate shapes directly into plaster. We decided to use an open, one-part mould to pour porcelain over the sharp edges milled into the plaster. Like a rock underwater, the sharply drawn edges in the plaster are covered by liquid porcelain that leave swirls and ripples.

This project is a collaboration

Claudine Arendt

Sven Gastauer

Karlien van Leeuwen

Soutien financier du Ministère de la Culture du Grand-Duché de Luxembourg

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