project leader
Amanda N
5401 Hamilton Ave
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the project

Japanese rock gardens, often called Zen gardens, have been a staple of Zen Buddhist temples since the 14th century. Featuring natural elements embedded in sand, these gardens are raked in patterned waves to represent the ripples of water in an attempt to capture the essence of nature through representational and meditational practices. In modern times, the desktop Zen garden has become a common sight in the cubicle world, with many desk workers hoping to introduce peace and tranquility into their stressful lives.

For this year’s IngenuityFest, we are creating a human-scale version, with a twist.  The Zen SoundScapes garden will feature a sandbox (tentatively 10’x10’) built over a translucent floor with lighting underneath. The garden surrounding the box will feature a sculptural cherry tree that arcs over the box, concealing a camera pointed down at the box to measure light intensities as the sand is raked into different patterns. As festival attendees interact with the rake and sand, different patterns of exposed light levels will emerge and shift. Using software already developed and tested for this project, the camera will average out light intensity levels into a 5x5 grid superimposed over the sandbox. With one axis representing the five notes of a traditional Japanese pentatonic scale, and the other axis representing five octaves, the grid will translate the light intensity of each grid square into tones, allowing users to create music that adapts in real-time to the changing lightscapes reaching the camera.

Sounds from exposed lighting under the sand will be augmented by the movable stones in the sandbox, which will contain lights that blink, pulsate, or stay constantly lit to encourage participants to move those items around and activate particular notes in various ways. Every action a person takes within in the sandbox will have a real-time musical response, creating a dreamy aura of sound that transports participants directly into the Zen mindscape.

the steps

Build will be ongoing throughout the summer.  Workshops to help us build may be added over the next few weeks - check back to see when YOU can come join us in our efforts!

The final piece will be on display at IngenuityFest in September.  This is a FREE event open to the community!  Our display will be only one small portion of a huge music, arts, and innovation festival.

why we're doing it

Frequent collaborators, Michael and Amanda attempt to create multi-sensory experiences through immersive installations.  Michael comes from a 3-D and experiential design background, and is also a prolific musician and audio engineer. Amanda is a visual artist with a background in Buddhist iconography and Asian art history.  Both together and independently, they have created numerous large scale pieces for art festivals and fundraising events.

IngenuityFest is already one of Cleveland’s most awesome highlights, but what we’re attempting to build for it is a uniquely immersive experience.  To introduce something so highly interactive, while also being both meditative and stimulating, would provide a culmination of two lifetimes' worth of passion, study, and worksmanship.


Plexiglass Flooring Panels - $4000

Expanded Metal Framing - $1000

Wood for Buildout - $1000

Floor Lighting - $1000

Electronics - $600

Materials for Tree Build - $400

Fill Materials - $500

Paint/Decor - $500

Potential Overages - $1000

ioby Platform Fee     $35
ioby Donation Processing Fee (3%)    $310
TOTAL TO RAISE =    $10,345


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This is where photos will go once we build flickr integration


  • Mickey Drummond
  • Lisa Curll
  • Anonymous
  • M&M
  • Matthew Shank
  • John and Phyllis Watson
  • Michael McFarland
  • John Kasunich
  • Amanda Nyx