Love Hultén’s custom device translates biodata from a cactus into MIDI

First, we made music with mushrooms. The next step? Cacti.

Desert Songs Plantwave
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A designer, craftsman and avant-garde instrument designer, Love Hultén, has turned a cactus garden into an instrument for his latest project, Desert Songs.

The project features a device called Plantwave, which turns biodata from organic objects into MIDI. This means that instead of composing the music, it’s simply sending “biofeedback creating true organic randomness,” Hultén says.

The plants act as variable resistors that create this organic feel and create minute changes in the electrical current.

Inside the device is a range of different specimens of cacti, selected for their sparse and sporadic activity. Each cactus is hooked up to a probe and the user can change output between individual plants as you go using patch points upfront.

In a video of the machine, posted to YouTube, Hultén sends the simple waveshaping MIDI signals from the cacti to a Korg NTS-1. He also adds extra atmosphere using the Microcosm granular looper and glitch pedal made by Hologram Electronics.

Aesthetically, to amplify the concept of organic MIDI for the user, Hultén has included a custom MIDI visualizer displaying chloroplasts under a microscope.

Love Hultén has a penchant for creating stylish and artistic synths. In 2020, he posted a video demonstrating a conceptual vocal synthesizer using 25 sets of plastic teeth, each set representing a unique note on the keyboard. He’s also made a marble MIDI machine, a foldable, carryable custom synth rack, and a sound machine that brings together various Teenage Engineering devices into one unit.

Watch the Plantwave technology in action via his YouTube channel.

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