Built as my final project of freshman year, the rubens tube was designed as a crossover project from a traditional physics experiment to a contemporary art piece. In physics, the rubens tube is a simple experiment made for visualizing sound waves with fire. It, at its most basic aspect, is a BBQ with a speaker attached. As the speaker creates sound, the pressure in the tube fluctuates based off of the sound waves. This in turn pushes more gas out of some pilot holes creating a wave effect in the fire.

I used this property to see if this simple effect could be used as a data visualization technique. Turning data into sound allowed me some freedom with expression but not much. In the end the project proved as a point of concept, that while the medium may be intriguing, its value as a visualizer of non-sound wave data is null. It remains a fantastic tool for interactive s’mores making.

Ruben’s Tube (IML 102 Final Project)