Modular Rhythm Machine

An exploration of rhythm, sound, public space, and power

About the Project

The Modular Rhythm Machine is a vehicle to explore the relationship between power and the amplification/multiplication of sound. It is also a tool to search for questions about the meaning and forces behind rhythmic patterns, synchronicity, syncopation, and chaos.

Currently, the machine is composed of 42 modules, each one conceived both as a modular block and as a self-playing wooden box-drum. Each block is equipped with a servo motor attached to a drumstick and an ultrasonic sensor to detect people’s proximity.

As a research tool, this project was designed to perform different forms and iterations. Such goals have been achieved and continue to be pursued by promoting and designing new experiments in different places, institutions and arrangements of the project.

The Modular Rhythm Machine has been exhibited in the MIT Wiesner Building (E15), the MIT Museum, Dutch Design Week 2017, Design Indaba 2018, and Ars Electronica 2017.

View a video of the Modular Rhythm Machine.

Public Events

Modular Rhythm Machine at Design Indaba Festival
February 21–24, 2018  
Artscape Theatre Centre, Cape Town, South Africa
Festival Website

Modular Rhythm Machine at the YouFab Global Creative Awards
February 9–23, 2018
Good Design Gallery, Tokyo, Japan
Awards Website

Modular Rhythm Machine at Dutch Design Week
October 20–29, 2017
Eindhoven, Netherlands
Dutch Design Week Website

Modular Rhythm Machine at Ars Electronica
September 7–11, 2017
Ars Electronica Festival 2017
Linz, Austria
Ars Electronica Website

Modular Rhythm Machine at the MIT Museum
January – December, 2017
MIT Museum, 265 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA
MIT Museum Website

About the Artist

Nicolás Kisic Aguirre SM ’18 is a graduate of the Program in Art, Culture and Technology at MIT. He holds a professional degree in Architecture from Pontificia Universidad Católica del Perú in Lima, and has previously undertaken studies in Economics (Universidad del Pacífico, Lima), Environmental Studies (Stanford University), and Digital Fabrication (AS220, Rhode Island). His current research examines the potential of sound and its relevance to different notions of public space. Within this practice, he is invested in the production of work that aims to explore, understand and activate public space through sound and sonic artifacts.

His work has been presented at the Ars Electronica Festival (Linz), Dutch Design Week (Eindhoven), the MIT Museum (Cambridge), Design Indaba (Cape Town), and the Good Design Gallery (Tokyo). Recently, his work has been presented in unexpected spaces, such as performances, protests, celebrations, and explorations that ultimately test the boundaries of our common understanding of the city and the spaces we share in it.

Nicolás was awarded second prize in the 2018 MIT Harold and Arlene Schnitzer Prize in the Visual Arts.

More on the artist’s website: Nicolás Kisic Aguirre.