Link to the University of Pittsburgh Homepage
Link to the University Library System Homepage Link to the Contact Us Form

Seeing Sound: Hans Jenny and the Cymatic Atlas

Lewis, Stephen (2010) Seeing Sound: Hans Jenny and the Cymatic Atlas. Undergraduate Thesis, University of Pittsburgh. (Unpublished)

Primary Text

Download (314kB) | Preview


I argue that cymatic imaging processes are methods of artifactual data production rather than data collection and that the production of sonorous figures can be shown to be scientifically valuable when compared to other artifactual data production methods used in the past, particularly Alphonse Bertillon's use of anthropometrics to organize police catalogues in the 19th century. By artifactual, I mean that the data produced through a cymatic regime are the result of the imaging practice, and do not exist in the world before they are manufactured through a contrived process. Cymatics, a mediating imaging practice, permits an enhanced visual access to acoustical phenomena that are typically only experienced through our senses of hearing and touch. Furthermore, the production of cymatic images allows both hobbyists and scientists to create atlases, visual data repositories, of sound, wave displacements, and other modal phenomena. Without the artifactual visual data produced by a process like cymatics, it is impossible to create image-based atlases of invisible phenomena like sound that show more than idealized graphics of a particular wave.In order for scientific cymatic atlases to be created, the methods of production of a cymatic image, especially the frequency of the wave displacement and the media through which that wave displacement is being propagated, must be faithfully recorded and measured in order for viewers of the atlas to know what particular phenomenon they are observing.. Though cymatics has been studied in detail since the Enlightenment, Dr. Hans Jenny was the first person to accurately record this auxiliary data, which allowed him to create the first cymatic atlas that was useful to scientists.


Social Networking:
Share |


Item Type: University of Pittsburgh ETD
Status: Unpublished
CreatorsEmailPitt UsernameORCID
Lewis, Stephensdl17@pitt.eduSDL17
ETD Committee:
TitleMemberEmail AddressPitt UsernameORCID
Committee ChairEllenbogen,
Committee MemberRagona,
Committee MemberMachamer, Peterpkmach@pitt.eduPKMACH
Committee MemberSmith, Terrytes2@pitt.eduTES2
Date: 13 May 2010
Date Type: Completion
Defense Date: 20 April 2010
Approval Date: 13 May 2010
Submission Date: 21 April 2010
Access Restriction: No restriction; Release the ETD for access worldwide immediately.
Institution: University of Pittsburgh
Schools and Programs: Dietrich School of Arts and Sciences > History and Philosophy of Science
David C. Frederick Honors College
Degree: BPhil - Bachelor of Philosophy
Thesis Type: Undergraduate Thesis
Refereed: Yes
Uncontrolled Keywords: anthropometrics; artifactual; Bertillon; cymatics; Jenny; sound
Other ID:, etd-04212010-191350
Date Deposited: 10 Nov 2011 19:40
Last Modified: 15 Nov 2016 13:41


Monthly Views for the past 3 years

Plum Analytics

Actions (login required)

View Item View Item