Maria Kapteijns

Harmonica Mundi

Harmonices Mundi, harmonies of the world, is a book by Kepler (1619). He elaborated the concept of music as a mathematic and geomatrical phenomenon. He was convinced that understanding this, would give insight in planetary motions, for he supposed that a celestial-harmonic relationship was the underlying structure.

During one month of July, I had collected hundreds of dead insects, crashed in Eindhoven. I had made linocuts from all of them, and one day I started looking through the microscope at their amazing wings. This resulted in a series of photocollages and the discovery that the buzzing sound is produced by the flapping of the wings.

The frequency of the sound is the frequency of the wingbeat. A housefly moves his wings 190 times per second, producing a F-sharp as buzztone (Fis in Dutch).  So, if Keppler was right about the harmony the world produced as musical tones, in our cities we have all those insects to take care of the background music, to balance the world.

comprehensive  projects - with Valentijn Dijkmeijer
In an old Philips building, in a gallery and in the windows of the local newspaper, we were given the opportunity to show our work. It resulted in a huge spiral, displaying the musical system we use, connecting it to the city of Eindhoven and to the insects that produce all that buzzing sounds that fit in the harmonical mathematics according to Kepler.

The spiral was made of plywood, the little machines that were made to make the wings vibrate in the right frequency, were of copper and wood.
They buzzed all in their own frequency, randomly being switched on and off.

part of the final project: spiral showing the mathematical and geometric structure of our musical system. The buzzingsounds of insects is produced by little machines with vibrating wings in the right frequency.