Turning Sports into an Innovative Exploration of Space and Senses

by Silje Kvam
November 5, 2021
In an attempt to determine the relationship between motion and sound, Edern Janneau has created a device that turns bodily movements into beautiful sounds. His bachelor’s project is called “Melodic Gesture”, and he uses the game of table tennis as an example of showcasing a new approach of experiencing senses through sports.
Key message
This project tackles the shared connection that is created between a player’s movements in a space, and the sounds they make. Sports has always been looked upon as a competitive game between two or more people. This project, however, explores a new way of perceiving sports, because it is also a ground for creativeness of senses.
Edern Janneau created this device as an exploration of how sound and motion affect each other. Executing an action causes effects similar to those of a domino piece. One movement leads to another, and all the sounds created derive from the first action. Each sound sets the base for the next motion, creating the basis of art created as a performance.
In the last week of October, NOFILTER.SPACE visited The Design Academy Eindhoven Graduation Show during Dutch Design Week. Staged annually, the show presents both Bachelor and Master student final projects in a curated environment. This year's Graduation Show took place at a new location: the Beursgebouw in the center of Eindhoven. We thank Raf De Keninck, Director of Education, Research and Organisation, for showing us around and introducing us to the school's philosophy, new strategies, and the students. We announce our choice of the project "Melodic Gesture" by Edern Janneau. "Melodic Gesture" brings us to a new dimension of sports where sound association and synesthesia are central to the game. While making the beauty of the sports more apparent and personal, the project demonstrates the new possibilities of creating metaspace: the imagined space, which is enabled by digitalization.

The Execution of a Game of Table Tennis

Through observations of Ronaldinho practicing football, artist and designer Edern Janneau picked up the interesting detail of the sound of the ball hitting the cross bar, as a response to Ronaldinho continual accuracy.This has been the main example Janneau has used in his explanation of this project. He discovered that sound and movement affect each other in sports and has translated it into an artistical device. With synesthesia and senses in focus he has opened our eyes for a new way of experiencing sports. Janneau created a prototype of a table tennis board where the two players can experience their gestures through a beautiful melody. Each of their actions are treated and translated straight into harmonious sounds and melodies. The device lets them work together to create a unique acoustical masterpiece, or simply discover the melodic effects of a competitive game play.

The Ambience of the Space

Hearing is one of the main senses humans may possess. When a device like Janneau’s, which is created to express the connection between gestures and sounds, is put into a room, it changes the entire atmosphere of the space. Janneau’s device focuses on harmonious reverberations and melodies. When in use, this creates an echo of soothing musical elements that reflect the way the players create their gestures through the space. It is difficult to recreate a combination of movement, speed and strength that has been generated before, which is why the ambiance of the room at any given time, and during any match is completely unique. Being present in the room during such a performance must be nothing but remarkable.

How It Works

The table is designed in an intricate manner, in order to precisely translate every human gesture and the trajectory, height and speed of the ball, into beautiful musical sounds. Where the ball hits the table determines the note and the reverb percentage, the height determines the pitch change and the speed before each hit determines the note velocity. When the ball hits the racket, the base note A is performed. This adds up to a groundbreaking way of creating a performance that changes the experience of the space and the game. 

About Edern Janneau

The artist and designer Edern Janneau holds a bachelor's degree from the Design Academy Eindhoven. His focus is on synesthesia - combining the several senses so they are perceived together. He does this through the use of technology in space, with a sensible approach that preserves the atmosphere of the environment and the space.


IMAGES: Courtesy of Edern Janneau                                              


Instagram: @edern.janneau

Collages by Silje Kvam

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