Faraday Waves

Robert Godman (Artist), Samantha Jury (Film-Maker)

Research output: Non-textual formPerformance


Faraday Waves is a short audio-visual work written as a companion piece for a concert-hall performance of Poème électronique by Varese. Faraday discovered that a liquid undergoing vertical vibration, whose frequency exceeds a certain value, becomes unstable to surface waves. Also known as Faraday Instability, they form non-linear standing waves that appear on liquids enclosed by a vibrating vessel. In ordinary Newtonian fluids (those that do not exhibit shear thickening or shear thinning) the wave patterns include ones with 1-fold symmetry (stripes), 2-fold symmetry (squares), 3-fold symmetry (hexagons) as well as higher orders of symmetry. The effect was first reported by Michael Faraday in 1831, and forms one of many experiments in visualizing vibration and sound – a means of converting analogue data from one form to another.

Thanks to an award from Santander, the composer was able to visit his colleague Professor Stephen Morris at the Physics Department, University of Toronto in May 2015. Part of Stephen’s research regards ‘shaking things’ and sound is often used as a form of stimuli. The video work, created by Sam Jury, uses video documentation of the classic physics experiment invented by Faraday with the analogy of sound to image data transfer used as the starting point for the creation of the music. 
Faraday Waves uses speech rhythms found in the e.e. cummings poem I Carry Your Heart With Me. Placed within the resonance of a bell (sounds are constructed from the resonance formed through the cross-synthesis of a child's voice and an English bell peal); it symbolizes the creation and birth of a new life.

The work is another example of the composers fascination with art and science crossovers with particular regard to historical physics experiments and demonstrations.

With a first performance at the prestigious Art & Science Days 2016 Concerts, Concours de Bourges, France, the work has toured five venues throughout the UK in 2016/17 as part of the 'Ritual in Transfigured Time' tour (a concert series initiated by Kate Romano and the Goldfield Ensemble - Arts Council of England, RVW Trust and the Britten-Peers Trust funded). In addition, it was shown at the British Human Computer Interaction Conference, Bournemouth University, Poole, Dorset, July 2016, the Diffrazioni Festival November 2016, S. Maria Novella, Florence, Italy, Sound-Image, Faculty of Architecture Computing and Humanities, University of Greenwich 2017 and Seeing Sound, Bath Spa University 2018.  It was cited for Professor of Geophysics Stephen Morris's talk - Art, outreach, and pattern formation presented at the Form in art, toys and games conference, The Isaac Newton Institute for Mathematical Sciences, University of Cambridge.

Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationBourges
Media of outputFilm
Size6 minutes
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jun 2016
EventArt & Science Days Concerts, Concours Bourges - Cinéma de la Maison de la Culture de Bourges, Bourges, France
Duration: 3 Jun 20163 Sept 2016


  • Faraday Instability, Cross-synthesis


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