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The sound and light sculpture Hulda


an excerpt from an installation for the sound and light sculpture Hulda

The sound and light sculpture, Hulda, is a string instrument that produces both sound and light. During performances Hulda’s surroundings are filled with sounds, patterns, shadows and colours that constantly change. Lilja María designed and built the prototype in 2013 as her final project when she was studying fine arts in Gardabaer College. In the summer 2016 she received a grant from the Icelandic Student Innovation Fund to develop the sculpture under the supervision of Berglind María Tómasdóttir, associate professor in contemporary music performance at Iceland University of the Arts, and Jón Marinó Jónsson, violin maker. Stefán Ólafur Ólafsson advised on the electronics and the programming of the lights.


The design of the instrument is based on human anatomy, mainly the senses which are connected to our perception of hearing and seeing. The lower part of the frame is based on parts of the inner ear and the upper part of the frame is based on muscles in the eye. Inside the instrument are built in lights connected to a computer that analyses the frequencies of the notes being played and interprets the information and translates the sounds to light. The whole mechanism which controls the lights is hidden inside the instrument, it is a part of the sculpture so at first the sculpture looks like a string instrument but when it’s played it reveals its hidden potentials. The name Hulda means something that’s hidden or ‘the hidden one’ and reflects the design of the instrument.


The instrument has 25 strings and is normally tuned chromatically, however it can be adapted to different tunings. The visual representation of the lights can also be adapted to different projects. New colour palettes, different patterns and visuals can be designed to fit different concepts.   

The sound and light sculpture Hulda

Images from installations