Interview with Brendan Leask

Elemental Audiographs
Honorary Mention 2023

Elemental Audiographs is the embodiment of the endless design possibilities that can be unlocked by sound frequencies, particularly when looking through nature’s lens. This set of forty-five symbols combines the sound waves of five natural elements: water, fire, earth, air, and space, with the sound waves of other worldly subjects.

This project went through a number of diverging phases. Ultimately, the chosen symbol system is a derivative of the different concepts and directions that were taken. The symbols themselves started as audio waves from freesound []. Ten sounds were initially selected at random for each of the five elements. Audio samples that fit into more than one of the five categories were grouped according to their dominant element. However, it’s important to note the audio clips included in the space category are not necessarily related to the cosmos. “Larger than life” sounds that disrupt the elements around them are categorized here. Once the sounds were chosen, scamps of their audio samples were created. These drawings represented the average frequencies of each sound wave, condensing them into the symbols’ general shapes. Then, to transform these shapes into the final forty-five visuals seen in Elemental Audiographs, a grid was built using both a circle split into five equal sections for each element and concentric circles radiating outwards. Any audio clip may utilize one or more sections of the grid, depending on the sound and its associating natural elements. The sounds themselves are represented by arcs formed using the circles inside the boundaries of its element’s section. Volume is shown by the thickness of an arc; the higher the volume, the thicker the arc. Frequency is shown through the arc’s width—short waves are high-pitched and long waves are low-pitched—and so the symbols visualize the actual physics of sound waves.

Every audio clip embodies a different element or combination of elements, constructed according to their sound waves within the grid. Minor parts of the grid have been left in the symbols to add visual texture and signify the expansive nature of sound. This system allows for a unique representation of any sound as a distinct symbol, meaning no two symbols in Elemental Audiographs are identical, even if they represent very similar physics.

Brendan Leask

Brendan Leask is pursuing a BA in Multimedia Design at Greenside Design Center in Johannesburg, South Africa. His current work focuses on UI and interaction design and animation, but he is also interested in coding and game design. He previously studied Sound Engineering and is eager to combine his current and past studies to create visual work when the opportunity presents itself. He is working towards being able to build immersive experiences by combining our natural and digital worlds into augmented or virtual realities.