Mike Rijnierse & Aurèle Adam

Artist Mike Rijnierse and Aurèle Adam, Assistant Professor at the Optics group, are Crossing Parallels. In line with Rijnierse’s earlier work, he studies light, colour and sound, and their (possible) connections. Together with the Optics group, they collaborate on the project Sound Shades.

Sound Shades

Ever since Rijnierse started his research on light and color, he imagined to develop a kind of glasses that could modulate the state of its optical properties, like brightness, color and even structure in order to cause diffraction. If it would be possible to modulate these properties using a microprocessor, these glasses would be an instrument to turn our vision into ‘music for the eyes’.
These qualities could be implemented by use of thin-film optics. A branch of optics that deals with very thin structured layers of different materials. In order to exhibit thin-film optics, the thickness of the layers of material must be on the order of the wavelengths of visible light (about 500 nm). Layers at this scale can have remarkable reflective properties due to light wave interference and the difference in refractive index between the layers, the air, and the substrate. These effects alter the way the optic reflects and transmits light. This effect, known as thin-film interference, is observable in soap bubbles and oil slicks.

Having discussed these subjects with the Optical Research Group the conclusion was that it is still too complex and too expensive to modulate different optical properties in thin-film optics. Therefore the research group has decided to develop this project using LCD (Liquid Crystal Display).

The operation of a LCD (Liquid Crystal Display) is based on the effect that the liquid crystals in the display are able to turn the polarization direction of light. If an electrical voltage is applied, the polarization will not be reversed. The liquid crystal consists of rod-shaped complex molecules which interact in mutual interaction with a spiral structure, each molecule being twisted relative to the underlying molecule. When this liquid crystal terminates in a polarization direction that does not pass through the last polarization filter, the subpixel is black (no light emits), the less light the filter enters, the darker the tint, the color of the subpixel is not affected by this but The amount of color, however, because 3 (or 4) subpixels work together, the pixel assumes a mix color with a certain amount of each color.

The LCD itself is only a light valve and does not generate light; the light comes from a backlight. Therefore, when disassembled the LCD Matrix functions as a window. This makes it possible to develop the kind of glasses the artist has in mind.
Currently Mike Rijnierse is researching with the help of specialists to come to a compact design including electronics and wireless accessibility to the microprocessor, that controls the optical properties of the LCD. The limitations of these aspects will define the final design of Sound Shades.

Mike Rijnierse


Mike Rijnierse (1974) is an artist, performer and educator working in the fields of light, sound and architecture. He is intrigued by sensory experience, whether visual, acoustic, spatial, or cross-senses and synesthesia, creating installations, performances, public interventions, often collaborating with other disciplines. Rijnierse has exhibited his works throughout Europe, Korea, Taiwan, Morocco, The United Arab Emirates and Brazil in various contexts, from media art festivals, to galleries, museums and interventions in the public space. As a docent since 2009 at Interaction Design department of ArtEZ, Arnhem, Rijnierse has devised the course Design of Instruments, where students research and create instruments that transcend technological domains, exploring new and obsolete media.




Rob Bothof

Aurèle Adam


Aurèle Adam is the assistant professor of the Optics Group at the TU Delft. After his graduation in 2000 at the Ecole Supérieure d'Electricité (Supélec-Paris), Adam joined the research team of Alain Kreisler at the Laboratoire de Genie Electrique de Paris and the group microelectronic of Erik Kollberg in the Chalmers University of Technology (Sweden) for a coupled Ph.D. thesis. The subject was Hot Electron Bolometers for Far Infrared detection using Low or High Temperature Superconductors. In 2003, he went to the Netherlands to become a member of the European Research and Training Network INTERACTION in the Kavli Institute of Nanoscience at the TU Delft. He worked on developing a novel room temperature array detector for TeraHertz (THz) radiation. He also performed many experiments for the characterization of THz Quantum Cascade Laser in collaboration with the group of Qing Hu, at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was then involved in the European project 'TeraNova', which was exploiting the radiation between microwaves and far infra-red, driving forward fundamental research and applications in this area.


Richard Bekking
Aidan Wyber
Thim Zuidwijk