Made by Ruihao Ye

Represent a song, specifically Halcyon by Xi, through a visual representation of a rhythm game.

Created: October 17th, 2016



I am not particularly familiar with physical media, and so it took some time to think up of a doable visual piece that could represent sound.  The only thing that came to mind were the many rhythm games that I played on my phone, and I felt it would possibly be fitting to try to represent a song from the game, specifically Halcyon by Xi, as something physical.  It took a while to think of something, when I remembered a video I had watched fairly recently about Mobius Strips, and I felt that the infinite track and repetitiveness would be a fun representation of the frustration that comes with rhythm games.  And I felt it would tie in well with the idea of translating sound to physical form, as having played that song many times I end up seeing the notes whenever I just play the song to listen to.



I created the Mobius Strip with copy paper, colored pencil and clear tape, as well as using a board and a box cutter for cutting the strips to size.  The Strip itself is done with three twists instead of the standard one, and it does loop inside itself a few times to create a compact yet neat and symmetrical figure.

The colors themselves are coordinated to the actual beatmap for the song in the rhythm game, with purple being going up the screen and green doing down (the game from which the beatmap was taken is called Cytus, which utilizes a scanning line to read the notes and time the player's input), with a bit of black text to represent the beginning of the song as well as a restart text to make the repetition more visible.

The texture of the actual piece is just copy paper with occasional roughness from the tape.  I approached this project as more a prototype for a possible installation (in an optimal setting with optimal talent, I envision a looping LED strip statue with possibly one side for viewer interaction with the piece), and as such the detail and texture are not optimal.  The strips also do not always line up perfectly, and the shape of the Mobius Strip was hard to control due to the paper and tape used (some parts resisted bending nicely, or if they were already bent, were hard to straighten out).

The three words, Restart, Ready and Go, were moved to be visible from above, as well as the final note with an X to represent a mistap in the song and the restarting of the game.



Acknowledging my lack of ability, I decided to approach the project as an in between between the sound and the visual aspect, as the piece itself does also reflect a preexisting visual characteristic to the source material.  The use of a Mobius Strip was influenced by the video by the YouTube Channel Numberphile and their video on various Mobius Strips (Video will be in the bottom few panels).  Also, the video from the assignment page, Reflection II, also provided some inspiration, as the idea to create an object which represented sound via direction on the piece itself helped me to reach the idea for the final product.  Because I approached the project like a prototype, the piece itself less conveys the sound as it conveys the medium the sound was represented as, just made physical, yet I still felt that the note density would get across the complexity of the song itself.



I am not so sure that I managed to capture the essence of the sound effectively with the time, resources, and personal level of talent (lack thereof) at hand.  On one hand, those who may be familiar with the game or the song may see the notes (if they were made cleaner, were the actual sprites used int the game and measured better) and see the song itself, but on the other hand it is likely easy to also see how it does not fully capture the sound itself without having some other level of complexity (LED movement for example).  I feel that if given more time, better resources and having done more with physical media, I could possibly have made a better installation for such a piece (I also envision a Mobius Strip with physical perturbations in the form of 2D waves as the "beatmap"), but with the resources and time given, I think it is okay as a representation, even with its niche reference.

Möbius Knots and Roller Coasters - Numberphile
Numberphile -
[Cytus] Halcyon (HARD) Million Master!
K Shokoa -
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62-150 Intro to Media Synthesis and Analysis

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New creative industries are empowering new modes of collaborative consumption, creation and reuse of media. This often relies on successful collaborations between cross-trained artists, designers a...more


Represent a song, specifically Halcyon by Xi, through a visual representation of a rhythm game.