Play it again, Sarin

Artist Akshai Sarin's journey has been driven by curiosity, a human-centric intersection of technology and creativity.
Akshai Sarin.
Akshai Sarin.

SonoKinesis is a phrase I coined referring to the music, art and technology-based performance I have developed over the past six years. It involves the transformation of everyday objects and surfaces into dynamic, playable musical instruments,” says artist Akshai Sarin, who earlier this month, technologically changed one of the world’s largest passenger cruise ships, Royal Caribbean Cruises’ Spectrum of the Seas, into a playable music installation.

Sounds surreal? Sarin makes it real. “I have always found sound easier to relate to and communicate with versus words. I feel words are contextual and biased, based on the communicator and the receiver’s race, religion, geography, neighbourhood, frame of mind and even mood. Sound is the original language and vibration of the universe. It has no ‘colour’,” says the Bengaluru-based Sarin.

His journey has been driven by curiosity, a human-centric intersection of technology and creativity. “My mission is to get people to experience life outside the box, and make them smile and wonder for a moment,” says the certified meditation teacher and healer. Sarin’s prowess in Sonokinesis helps in centralising his energies.

“Essentially, we all live amid a certain vibration, just like fish live in the ocean. Just like fish are affected by the quality of the water, so are we and our minds by the state of vibration around us. Through my sound healing therapy work, I bring the human mind from its hyperactive overstimulated state, to a state of restfulness and peace, where new insights and capabilities can emerge. With SonoKinesis, I sometimes do music performances at the end of such healing sessions,” he says.

Demystifying the process on how he identifies the musical niche based on the density of the different objects that he plays on, Sarin says, “From a process point of view, it involves the connection of vibration sensors to an object/surface, training it to recognise different gestures, which then sends data to hardware—a computer, for example—to then trigger musical notes or sound. From a music style or genre point of view, it is meant to be flexible. For instance, a haircare brand recently asked me to create content by playing music with someone’s hair!” he smiles.

There were many challenges he faced on the cruise liner, including the strength of the wind out at open sea, the vibration of the ship’s engine, and even basic things like the availability of a sound system to transmit the sound. “Playing music using a ship that is 18-storeyed, 1,100-ft-long (100 ft more than the height of the Eiffel Tower), has 5,000 human beings on it and weighs 1,70,000 tonnes, is nothing short of crazy,” he says, adding as an afterthought, “But then, so is music.”

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