Luminous Rhythms, 2023

By Genie Hou, Linda Shao, Fatima AlJunaibi, and Fatema Alhameli

The sound of music echoes between the sand dunes attracting people’s attention. The Luminous Rhythms is a musical immersion where drum beats blend with radiant glowing dates. The drum set sitting under the dunes on a picnic blanket invites people to approach and engage in the musical experience. Each drummer’s playing responds to a unique color reflecting between the luminous dates. The drummer’s musical journey is enhanced to a new level when the two players synchronize their beats triggering the dates in the basket to shine in a bright gold glow. The music fills the air creating a captivating ambience that captures the senses of a community.

Desert Installation


Our inspiration stems from the culture of the UAE. Drums are a significant part of the heritage as the indigenous people would gather in the desert to play 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 sitting on the boulder 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 puts emphasis on fostering the connection between humans and nature using the installation surrounding the topic of drums, dates, and the desert.

Technical Implementation and Interaction

For the Luminous Rhythms installation, we decided to enhance the drums by installing touch sensors. The touch sensors (which measure the capacitance) are connected to the neopixel rings which light up in response to someone playing the drums and triggering the touch sensors. The dates in the basket are 3D printed in translucent material, allowing the light to shine through. The gold glow is only triggered when two people trigger the touch sensors – adding to the theme of community and bringing people together through music. This is the code that we can use when incorporating 2 touchpads (with 2 different colors), and this is the one with 4 touchpads(with 4 different colors). For our final installation, we opted to use one touchpad on each drum.

In the code, we’ve seamlessly integrated the speaker, touchpads, and light. Specifically, the speaker plays a designated sound upon detecting a tap on the drum, utilizing a time-counting mechanism. Additionally, we successfully implemented a feature to distinguish the light behavior when detecting simultaneous taps from two users. This results in a unique blending effect.

IM Showcase, Fall 2023

Installation Setup at IM Fall 2023 Showcase

Luminous Rhythms Interaction

Luminous Rhythms Interaction