Genie Hou, Linda Shao, Fatima Aljunaibi, & Fatema Alhameli


Between the sand dunes of the desert, a captivating experience takes place merging together a rhythmic echo and a series of lights. In this deserted environment, the mesmerizing ambiance from the sound of drums and the sight of lights draws in visitors and brings them together. The desert is often perceived as an abandoned and empty environment, however, the landscape is home to many hidden gems and our goal is to enrich them. The experience consists of a traditional Emirati seating area in the desert where people gather on a woven carpet to eat dates. This experience will include a set of responsive drums that trigger a series of lights in the artificial dates. The drum and light installation blurs the border between nature and art as it provides an unusual sensory experience to draw people together and the inhabitants of the desert.


We want to create a luminous shared musical experience that brings people together and incorporates desert culture and music. Visitors can play with the traditional drums and create blends of light that shine through the date basket, acting as a beacon that invites people to connect through music.

Relationship to previous work

Our main inspiration stems from the historical culture of the UAE. Drums were a significant part of the heritage as the indigenous people would gather in the desert to play them and dance to the rhythm. Dates signify the energy source as the most important sustaining substance in the desert and hold significance in the culture. We are especially inspired by the NAJMA project, also known as  “She Placed One Thousand Suns Over the Transparent Overlays of Space”, by Lita Albuquerque. The NAJMA project tells a story of connections between humans, the desert, and the universe with a statue that almost feels like a ritual all by itself and the blue circles on the sands aligning with the stars of the day of installation. It inspires us to create a project that fosters the connection between humans and nature using the installation surrounding the topic of drums and dates.


This sketch illustrates the setup we want to have for our final project. We will place all of the objects on a mat. The date basket will be hollow from the inside, and it will house all of the main components such as the battery pack and the circuit boards. The drums will have touch sensors connected to them which will send a signal to the neo pixels which will create blends of light depending on the interactions between the drums. The dates will essentially be a 3D-printed lid for the basket, it will be translucent so that the lights shine through.

Planned Technical Implementation

Our planned technical implementation involves three key hardware components. The first sensor we will be using is the vibration sensor. We will attach a vibration sensor or touchpad to the drum. It will detect the drum’s beats and trigger subsequent actions. The vibration sensor will analyze the drum’s beat frequency and influence the output of the light and the speaker. The second thing we are going to use is the Neo-Pixel Light. Neo-pixel lights will be discreetly placed inside the 3D-printed dates. These lights will adjust their brightness and change or blend colors based on the rhythm of the drum, enhancing the visual impact of the performance. The third part will be the speaker. The speaker will be closely integrated with the vibration sensor. When it detects a sound, the speaker will produce desert animal sounds, such as gazelles, camels, falcons, and more, to create an immersive experience. Additionally, we’ll employ 3D printing and fabrication techniques to ensure that the basket and dates look authentic and seamlessly integrate with the overall design. We will look more closely into the look of the dates and the final material we are going to use.

Proposal Presentation Link

Categories: Fall 2023